Emergency Budget Review: equality and fairness - evidence summary

Summary of evidence on equality and fairness of the Emergency Budget Review.


As set out in the Emergency Budget Review and associated documents published today, the cost of living crisis has created exceptional budgetary conditions. In particular, the Scottish Government's annual budget is now worth around £1.7 billion less that when it was introduced to Parliament in December. Furthermore, this budget is effectively fixed in cash terms, so every additional pound spent in one area must mean a pound less has to be spent in another area.

This context means that the Emergency Budget Review has involved a range of difficult decisions, which will have impacts on the lives of people across Scotland.

Even when such decisions need to be made quickly, as is the case now, it is important they remain underpinned by an understanding of who will be affected, and how. The Cost of Living analysis we have undertaken shows that low income households are most at risk in the current circumstances, and low income households with particular characteristics are most likely to fare worse.

Recognising the unprecedented nature of the changes being required of the Scottish Government's budget over the course of this year, the Emergency Budget Review is also accompanied by this analysis of the equality and fairness impacts of the most substantive in-year adjustments. This shows that;

  • Some of the new measures we have announced are expected to have positive impacts on equality and fairness, such as the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments in December.
  • Many of the savings that have been made arise from re-forecasting (for example as a result of changes in uptake of, or demand for, services), and these are unlikely to have a direct impact on equality or fairness.
  • There are, inevitably, also some savings with likely negative equality and/or fairness impacts. In all cases, we have worked hard to maintain funding where possible, and will continue to work with partners to minimise impacts.

Clearly we are having to react to unpredictable UK Government actions as this year continues to unfold, and our future decisions will build on the evolving picture of impacts. However, we believe it is important to be transparent about the equality and fairness considerations associated with the difficult decisions required through the Emergency Budget Review.

Given the exceptional circumstances and time constraints under which the Review has been undertaken, the current summary evidence is necessarily presented at a high level and focuses on the most substantial changes. We will continue to develop equality evidence, as well as mitigations wherever possible for negative impacts.

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery

Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Equalities and Older People


Email: tom.russon@gov.scot

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