Equality rights groups call for Treasury transparency
Date Posted: Thursday 22nd June 2023
On Thursday 22nd June, the Women’s Budget Group (WBG), the Runnymede Trust and Disability Rights UK together wrote to the Information Commissioner voicing their disappointment and profound concern over his decision that the Treasury will not be required to publish an equality impact assessment (EIA) of the 2022 Spring Budget, as set out in his response to an FOI request submitted by the Disability News Service.
They argue that, without a comprehensive assessment, it is impossible to determine whether the Treasury has adequately considered the disproportionate impact of its decision-making processes on the most discriminated against communities in the UK. The organisations jointly call on the Treasury to demonstrate compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) by publishing a cumulative impact assessment of the 2022 Spring Budget and invest in training its staff to conduct meaningful cumulative impact assessments on future Budgets.
Amidst growing rumours about planned budget cuts to vital public services to fund tax cuts, and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis that is hitting disadvantaged communities the most, it is unacceptable that the public is left in the dark about the true consequences of budgetary decisions.
Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said:
“Transparency is crucial in formulating policies that benefit society as a whole and comply with the Equality Act 2010. It is essential that the Treasury provides stakeholders with insight into the analysis of policy issues, for us to engage effectively with the Government.”
“The Information Commissioner’s reasons just don’t stack up. How can the Treasury be held to account for complying with equalities law if they won’t show their workings?”
In the letter, the author’s say:
“In our research, we found that the poorest Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women have been disproportionately affected by cuts to social security and public services, while gaining the least from tax cuts. Similarly, disabled people have faced significant challenges in the face of rising costs of living. These intersecting inequalities demand a comprehensive approach to policymaking.”
Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK said:
“All the evidence points to Disabled people being disproportionately affected by poverty and inequality. Half the people in poverty are either Disabled people or people who have a Disabled person in their household.
“Disabled people are hit hard by cuts to public services, low benefit rates and the rising costs of food, energy and housing. It is absolutely vital that the Treasury understands the impact of its actions and is open and transparent about how their policies affect Disabled people.”
Dr Shabna Begum, co-CEO of the Runnymede Trust, said:
“The past 3 years have been hard for everyone but they have been especially hard for some of our most marginalised Black and minority ethnic communities. From Covid to the cost of living, our communities have been at the frontline of these hardships often being among those hit first, hardest, and in multiple structural ways. The support that is desperately needed is not making its way into these households, and is therefore maintaining a cycle of inequality and exclusion that will persist for generations to come.
“Openness, accountability, and learning from past policy mistakes are crucial to breaking this cycle, which can only be done if we can analyse where things went wrong. Impact assessments must not only be conducted, but done so in a meaningful way with the voices of those worst impacted firmly centred. Until that happens we will keep repeating the kinds of policies which uphold deep seated patterns of inequality, and lock people out of the vital social security services they need, and are entitled to.”
Notes to editors
- Read the full letter here
- The Disability News Service published an article on the 30th March following the ICO’s response to its FOI requests. Available here.
About the Women’s Budget Group:
The UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is the UK’s leading feminist think tank, providing evidence and analysis on women’s economic position and proposing policy alternatives for a gender-equal economy. We act as a link between academia, the women’s voluntary sector and progressive economic think tanks.
About the Runnymede Trust:
The Runnymede Trust is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. Through research and advocacy, they work to challenge racial inequalities and promote a fair and inclusive society.
About Disability Rights UK:
Disability Rights UK is a leading charity dedicated to promoting the rights and equality of disabled people in the UK. They work to influence public policy, support disabled individuals, and promote inclusivity in all aspects of life.
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