Does the Treasury have something to hide?
Responding to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report into the Equalities Analysis of the 2015 Spending Review and Autumn Statement, published today, Dr Eva Neitzert, Director of the Women’s Budget Group, said:
Reading the report of the Committee it is almost as if the Treasury had something to hide. Not only was the Equalities Analysis described by the Committee as ‘insubstantial and lacking in detail’ but the Treasury refused to send a Minister to appear before the Committee, saying that ‘individual spending departments have responsibility for the policy areas that they cover and their equality impacts’. It then refused to share the submissions made by those departments to the Treasury.
The Treasury has a legal obligation under the Public Sector Equality Duty to have due regard to the impact of its policies on equality but it doesn’t seem keen to do this in any meaningful way. This may be because, as modelling by the Women’s Budget Group has demonstrated repeatedly, such an assessment would show that the poorest households and women have been hit hardest by changes since 2010 and that they will be hit harder still by policies planned for 2015-2020. Our cumulative impact assessment published in March 2016 found the single lone parents and single pensioners will see, on average, a 20% decline in their living standard by 2020 compared to if policies had remained as they were prior to the Coalition taking office in 2010.
It may be that under a new Chancellor the Treasury will be more forthcoming about the equality impact of this year’s Autumn Financial Statement. We certainly hope that Phillip Hammond will heed the Women and Equalities Committee’s call for greater transparency from the Treasury.
Given the reluctance by the previous Chancellor, however, the Women’s Budget Group will again be analysing the impact of the AFS announcements on different groups. For the first time, we will be partnering with race equality thinktank, the Runnymede Trust, to provide a breakdown of the winners and losers by income, ethnicity and race, gender and disability.
The Women’s Budget Group will be responding to the Autumn Financial Statement on the day and publishing its distributional impact assessment jointly with the Runnymede Trust on Friday 25th November. Contact Eva Neitzert on firstname.lastname@example.org 07908 111344 or Mary-Ann Stephenson on 07957 338582 for more information. Twitter @WomensBudgetGrp