UK Budget Assessments
The Impact on Women of the Spring Budget 2011
Date Posted: Sunday 17th April 2011
Spring Budget (April 2011)
The Impact on Women of the Budget 2012
This gender impact assessment of the Coalition Government’s 2011 Budget has been produced by the UK Women’s Budget Group in partnership with the Fawcett Society.
In the UK today, economic inequality between women and men remains persistent and entrenched. In general, women earn less, own less and are more likely to live in poverty than men. This not only limits women’s financial power and freedom but also hinders their full participation in public life, including in positions of power and influence.
In order to comply with equality law, the government is required to pay “due regard” to the impact of their policies and functions on equality between women and men. In order to comply effectively with this duty, public authorities – including central government departments – must assess the impact of their current and proposed policies and practices on gender equality in order to reveal any impacts that may worsen gender inequality, thus enabling them to consider where mitigating action may be taken to remove or lesson any negative impact.
In a recent application for judicial review of the 2010 emergency budget by the Fawcett Society, the presiding judge ruled that the preparation and presentation of measures outlined in national budgets are subject to equality law. The judge further recognised that there is a need for improved data collection and analysis in order to adequately assess the impact of budget measures on equality between women and men.
We welcome that recognition has been granted at the highest level of the need to assess the impact of economic policy on equality between women and men. It is important to note that it in order for any such assessment to be useful it must explicitly recognise and address the impact of economic decisions on wider society. Decisions made by the Chancellor have an impact not just on the economy but on the structure of our society. Each measure in the budget therefore has the potential to further the progress of equality, produce no change in existing levels of inequality, or further entrench inequality.
What follows is a detailed analysis of individual measures contained within the March 2011 budget and the accompanying Plan For Growth. While the impact of individual measures may seem negligible, what emerges from the whole is a cumulative failure to address the inequalities that exist between women and men and to mitigate against austerity measures that threaten to further widen inequality.