Attendees and apologies
Attendees and apologies
- Angela O'Hagan (AOH)
- Ms. Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities Migration and Refugees (MEMR)
- Professor Graeme Roy, Scottish Fiscal Commission (GR)
- James Campbell (JC)
- Carmen Martinez (CM)
- Ali Hosie (AH)
- Joanna Anderson (JA)
- Alison Cumming (AC)
- Nick Bland (NB)
- Jamie MacDougall (JMac)
- Rob Priestley (RP)
- Joanne Briggs (JB)
- David Holmes (DH)
- Fergus Boden (FB)
- Jillian Matthew (JM)
- Maisy Best (MB)
- Claire Murdoch (CM)
- Jo Matthews (JoM)
- Joe Chalmers (JC)
- Naomi Clark (NC)
- Emma Congreve
- Chris Birt
- Tom Lamplugh
- Simon Wakefield
- Ben Walsh
- Tom Russon
Items and actions
AOH welcomed the group and outlined the agenda. She introduced MEMR, noting it was the first time a Minister had attended an official EHRBAG meeting. The group were also advised that the Scottish Fiscal Commission would be joining for a bespoke session later in the meeting.
Introductions with Ms. Roddick, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
MEMR explained her role to the group and provided an update on the Scottish Government responses to the group’s recommendations. She welcomed both the constructive support and challenge brought by the group. MEMR also mentioned being aware of EHRBAG from previous roles.
MEMR touched on some of the work being undertaken by Scottish Exchequer officials on the wider Budget process and spoke about the connections to her priorities. This included the continued work on the HR Bill, the PSED review, Equality Impact Assessments and increasing alignment with equality outcomes and the National Performance Framework.
AOH thanked MEMR and noted that she was pleased to hear the mentions of intersectionality and marginalised groups in the conversation; along with the awareness the Minister has of the group and their work.
- Following on from comments on embedding Human Rights into the Budget process, how do we ensure this is also reflected in the implementation and delivery?
MEMR emphasised the points made by AOH on the need for an attitudinal change and discussed some of the challenges when trying to fully embed equality and human rights into the Budget process. Reflecting on the Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement and if it is being used to its full potential.
MEMR reinforced the need to strengthen the overall processes, alongside Officials and Ministers recognising this work is essential. This includes MEMR and her own role in challenging Ministers, both, in what they are doing and how they are tackling inequalities in their own portfolios. It was noted that it is collectively being able to recognise that attitude change isn’t easy but is an approach that should be given serious consideration.
- We would like to take the opportunity to ask MEMR views on placing gender budgeting on a statutory footing, and how she sees this fitting within her remit, and across other ministerial departments?
MEMR made reference to the National Advisory Council on Woman and Girls recommendation of integrating intersectional gender budget analysis into the Scottish Government’s budget process. Further to this, she noted that officials are working closely with required stakeholders to ensure that this recommendation is considered within the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) review.
- Whilst echoing the comments around culture change, how can equality (and other) impact assessments be approached both nationally and locally given the variation on each areas process?
MEMR noted that it is important to share good practises in this area, but there is a need to also recognise the importance of giving local authorities their own autonomy. RP added that there has been a focus in Scottish Government and work on developing better impact assessment practises. More information is detailed in the Scottish Government responses to the recommendations.
MEMR explained when members receive responses, that they will be able to reflect on the work that has already been undertaken in this journey, in addition to the further ambitions and plans.
MEMR thanked the group for their time, optimism and energy and noted that she would welcome returning in future to continue the conversation.
Presentation on the Scottish Fiscal Commission’s report
AOH introduced Professor Graeme Roy, from the Scottish Fiscal Commission. GR was speaking to the group about the Fiscal Sustainability Report which looks at the long-term fiscal sustainability of the Scottish Government’s budget and was published in March 2023.
GR presented his slides that covered the following themes:
- current Scottish Government funding
- demographic projections
- drivers of growth in health spending
- spending projections
- funding projections
- Office for Budget Responsibility projections for UK Fiscal Sustainability
- Scottish Government annual budget gap
The group provided the secretariat questions in advance of the meeting, GR covered these within his presentation – advising of the limitations to the report and data.
- Has the impact of caring responsibilities on productivity been included as part of this analysis?
GR explained the model presented was based on the current system of how care is measured in the economy and what would happen if no change was made going forward. The research had not been modelled on what future social care could look like, such as the National Care Service (NCS), and this would be interesting to look at further as the work develops.
AOH noted it would be interesting to see the separation of health care and social care, as almost 24% of the active population are considered economically inactive.
- What are GR’s thoughts on the Scottish Budget from the findings of the published report and does it link to EHRBAG’s focus on embedding equality and human rights? If not, what needs to happen?
GR suggested the following points that Scottish Government may wish to consider further:
- understanding the options or action required from the numbers and data available or presented in the published report. Tax seems an obvious option for further consideration.
- investing in a long term budget process. The Medium Term Financial Strategy is good example but we still have one year budget and funding allocations. If a decision is taken now what are the long term implications of this? If a commitment is made now, what is the implication for the next 10-15 years?
- understanding what upfront larger investments will provide longer term savings in future? This working or thought cannot be reflected in a shorter term budget.
- How radical are the Scottish Government willing to be in relation to tax options and what Human Rights focus is there within the new Tax Advisory Group?
MEMR spoke about some of the decisions that have already been made on taxes and redistributing wealth. MEMR provided the group further background of the newly formed Scottish Government Tax Advisory Group and encouraged connections to be made to progress the group’s ambitions in this area.
Action: EHRBAG Secretariat to reach out for initial engagement with the Tax Advisory Group
Any other business
JMac updated the group on the changes being made within the budget process this year, noting more senior official involvement and further equality analysis of the budget being undertaken.
AOH thanked JMac and reminded the group that their role is to ensure equality and human rights considerations are framing and are at the forefront of these conversations and are not add-ons.
The next meeting for the Equality and Human Rights Budget Advisory Group is scheduled for 24 August.
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