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18.06.14

Greater fairness still needed in government spending decisions – EHRC

The government should make sure future spending reviews are more transparent allowing the public to see that they are “fair” and improve “equality of opportunity” for everyone.

This is according to a new progress report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which stated that significant improvements have been made by HM Treasury since 2012, including a more systematic approach to collecting data from government departments about potential impacts of their decisions on public expenditure - broken down by the characteristics protected by the Equality Act.

However, it believes the government can do more and has recommended that it clarifies a single point within government with formal responsibility for monitoring and assessing the cumulative impact on different groups; continues to make improvements in the quality of data collection and use in order to support the assessment of impacts; and develops of a methodology for modelling the cumulative impact on different groups for use in future spending reviews and financial policy decisions.

Mark Hammond, CEO of the EHRC, said: “Fairness is a value we all share and we welcome the progress that government has made since our previous report, to ensure that robust assessment of impacts on people with different protected characteristics is built into Budget and spending review decisions.

“However, more can be achieved and the Commission will continue to work with government and other experts to make sure financial policy making is fair and transparent.

“The recommendations we set out in this report will go a long way to making sure that all parts of government think about the potential for financial policy decisions to improve equality of opportunity.”

The EHRC has also commissioned exploratory work from the National Institute for Economic and Social research (NIESR) and Landman Economics, to develop and pilot an approach to understanding the likely effects of spending decisions on different groups.

This will help ensure that there is a consistent and joined-up approach within government for monitoring and assessing the cumulative impact of future spending reviews on equality of opportunity. The results will be published later this year.

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