The impact of human rights budgeting

Closes 9 Sep 2022

Opened 4 Jul 2022

Overview

The Scottish Government is expected to publish its Budget 2023-24 in December 2022. In advance of this, our Committee is undertaking pre-budget scrutiny to influence the Scottish Government’s thinking when preparing this budget.

The Committee is interested in how the Scottish Government will make sure equality considerations are enshrined in the budget process and are used to inform tax and spending decisions.

Your response to this call for views will inform the pre-budget scrutiny of the Committee and future oral evidence sessions.

Background

The Scottish Government published a number of fiscal documents in May 2022, which are relevant to the committee’s pre-budget scrutiny namely:

  • Resource Spending Review which set out indicative spending plans for the Scottish Government through to 2026-27
  • Medium-Term Financial Strategy which set out the medium-term economic and fiscal outlook and risks to the Budget
  • Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement which set out a number of opportunities and challenges in the equalities area in the coming years.

In its budget scrutiny work this year, the Committee will also consider the work currently being undertaken by the SPICe Research Fellow, Rob Watts, looking at human rights budgeting and its application in the year-round budget process.

Key questions

Now we want to hear from you about how human rights budgeting can have an impact across Scotland.

Budget process

  • What data and information is needed to assess whether budget decisions are helping to progressively realise human rights?
  • What needs to change to increase meaningful participation in the budget process, particularly for marginalised groups?
  • What can be done to make budget information more transparent and accessible?

Budget content

  • Do the Resource Spending Review or previous Scottish fiscal documents demonstrate a commitment by the Scottish Government to realising rights over time?
  • For example, is it possible to look at Budget documents and decipher if expenditure on realising rights is increasing or decreasing?
  • Is government funding directed to the right areas to enable the public sector to meet its human rights obligations?
  • Does the Scottish Government raise sufficient revenue to realise human rights? If not, how could the government raise more revenue to ensure rights realisation?
  • Is revenue raised in an equitable way?
  • What is the distributional impact of budget decisions? Do budget decisions have a discriminatory impact on different groups of the population? Do budget decisions help reduce structural inequalities?

The Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement

The Equality and Fairer Scotland statement sets out the following opportunities and challenges for the spending review period:

1. Support an economic recovery which continues to progress action to tackle structural inequality in the labour market, including through good green jobs and fair work.

2. Ensure that the devolved taxation system is delivered in a way which is based on ability to pay and that the devolved social security funding increases the resources available to those who need it.

3. Ensure that inequalities in physical and mental health are tackled through the effective delivery of health and social care services as well as broader public health interventions.

4. Build digital services that are responsive to individuals and address inequality of access to digital participation.

5. Deliver greater progress towards meeting statutory child poverty targets.

6. Deliver greater progress towards closing the attainment gap.

7. Improve the availability and affordability of public transport services, to ensure those more reliant on public transport can better access it.

8. Ensure that policies, action and spend necessary to mitigate and adapt to the global impacts of climate change deliver a just transition for people in Scotland.

9. Better realise the right to an adequate home that is affordable, accessible, of good quality, and meets individual need whilst ensuring that progress on tackling current inequality of housing outcome is addressed.

The Committee would welcome views on whether these opportunities and challenges are correctly focused, whether they are tangible and whether they are measurable?

Specifically:

  • Does the current approach to Equality Impact Assessments and Fairer Scotland Duty Assessments produce a fair budget/meaningfully impact budget decisions? If not, how can this be improved?
  • How can human rights be fully incorporated into the impact assessment process?
  • Do the 9 key opportunities and challenges identified in the Equalities and Fairer Scotland Statement correctly identify the key opportunities and challenges around building a fairer Scotland?
  • Can progress against these priority areas be tangibly measured?

Building on previous committee work

During last year’s Committee scrutiny of the Budget, there were questions for the Cabinet Secretary around there being a lack of funding certainty for the voluntary sector, with complaints that this sector was constantly facing uncertainty around single year budget settlements.

Following the publication of the Resource Spending Review this uncertainty remains. As such, the Committee would be interested in views on the following:

  • Has the Resource Spending Review given the voluntary sector the funding certainty it was hoping for?
  • Are funding arrangements for the voluntary sector fit for purpose? Please answer any of the questions that are of interest to you. You don’t need to answer all the questions.

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 9 September 2022.

Interests

  • EHRCJ