Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee: Pre-Budget Scrutiny 2022/23 - Call for Views

Closed 24 Sep 2021

Opened 1 Sep 2021

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee is asking for views on what should be in the Scottish Government’s budget for 2022/23.

Views can be submitted on any aspect of the budget affecting the committee’s remit. This year the Committee is particularly interested in how the budget affects the human rights of different groups and individuals in Scotland.

Background

The National Taskforce for Human Rights published its leadership report in March 2021. One recommendation was to incorporate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) into Scots law. The report also recommended that rights for women, disabled people and minority ethnic communities should be part of Scots law.

This includes:

  • right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to adequate food, clothing and housing and the continuous improvement of living conditions
  • right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
  • right to education
  • right to social security
  • right to take part in cultural life

Whilst there is more to delivering human rights than ensuring the right budgets are in place, the taskforce report also says, specifically on the budget: “it will be essential that human rights budget scrutiny and monitoring forms part of the framework implementation”.

As a guide, the committee suggest that those responding may wish to take account of some of the questions raised in this blog on human rights budgeting by Dr Alison Hosie (of the Scottish Human Rights Commission).

About the budgeting process

The Parliament’s budget process is now based on the approach of the Budget Process Review Group from 2017, whilst the Finance and Constitution Committee also provided guidance to committees on this year’s budget process.

The main task for committees is to provide a pre-budget report to their respective Minister. This should happen at least 6 weeks before the publication of the Scottish budget. It is currently assumed that pre-budget reports will be published by the end of October.

The budget document will then set out how committee views have been taken account of, with more detail provided individually to committees, within five sitting days of the publication of the budget. 

Budget documents now include an Equality and Fairer Scotland statement.

The “standard” budget timetable has been set out by SPICe (the Scottish Parliament Information Centre). The Scottish budget is expected to be published no more than three working weeks after the UK budget (normally published in the Autumn). However, HM Treasury have yet to announce a date for publication of this year’s UK budget.

What are the key questions?

Whilst views can be submitted on any aspect of the budget, the Committee is particularly interested in views on these questions:

Resource generation

The Government has an obligation to use the maximum of its available resources to progressively realise rights: 

  • Given the main sources of government revenue should the government further increase revenue available to it, and if so how?
  • How might particular groups be affected differently by efforts to raise revenues?
  • What kinds of analysis are necessary to ensure that resources are raised (and allocated) in such a way that supports the progressive realisation of rights? 

Resource allocation

The Government has three obligations:

  1. 'Minimum Core' - to allocate resources in a way that reduces inequalities whilst ensuring, at a minimum, a basic level of rights enjoyment for all.
  2. 'Progressive Realisation' - to generally increase allocated resources, in line with increased revenue, to achieve the further realisation of rights.
  3. 'Non-regression' - to ensure there is no unjustified reduction in allocation leading to regression in the realisation of rights. 
  • In terms of resource allocation what areas do you think are: sufficiently resourced, and/or under resourced and where resources need to be redirected to?
  • How might resource allocation address inequalities and the gaps in the realisation of human rights for all?
  • Overall, how effectively is public finance in Scotland being used to achieve economic, social and cultural rights (as outlined above)? What improvements are required?

Budget Process

The Government has an obligation to ensure the budget process is transparent, participative and accountable.

  • SPICe have set out the standard budget process. How easy is  it for people to engage with the budget process? For example:
    • How easy is it to navigate and find the necessary information on the budget?
    • Is there specific information or access to different information that would improve understanding and scrutiny?
  • Do you feel that you, your organisation, and the evidence you gather, can genuinely influence government decisions on the budget?
  • How can the links between policy commitments, allocations and achievements of rights be made more transparent?

It is not necessary to answer all questions.

Further information on human rights budgeting is available on the Scottish Human Rights Commission website.

Further information on the budget is available in the SPICe briefings (Income Tax in Scotland, Briefing on the Scottish Budget 2021-22, Blog on the 2021-22 budget) and in the Scottish Government budget documents for 2021-22.

How to submit your views

Please submit your views using the online submission form, linked to below.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. 

The call for views closes on 24 September 2021.

Interests

  • Equalities