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Equality review demonstrates need for transparency

A formal assessment of the Government’s 2010 spending review shows that greater transparency is needed to ensure policy decisions consider the impact on equality.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report analysing whether legal obligations on equality were met, using access to confidential documents and oral evidence sessions with ministers.

The Commission found that ‘serious’ efforts were made to meet the requirements, with six cases acting in accordance. These included removing child benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer, the £2.5bn pupil premium for disadvantaged children and the removal of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from claimants in residential care homes.

However, in three cases it was not clear where the true site of the decision lay, and whether it was the responsibility of other departments or the Government as a whole. These cases were the introduction of a household benefits cap, the Bus Service Operators Grant and replacing Education Maintenance Allowance with local discretionary funds.

The report recommends greater transparency, the development of a common model of analysis and earlier use of equality duties to meet legal obligations. The Government has undertaken to work with the commission to address these issues.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The key point for the Commission’s work is not to judge the past, but to transform the future.

“I am particularly pleased that the Government has indicated that it will work with us over the next few years to make sure that the equality impact of policy is fully understood and taken into account before decisions are made. That we think will lead to more targeted spending, more effective use of public money, and above all greater fairness all round.”

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