Equality Budget Advisory Group minutes: February 2022
- Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate
Minutes from the meeting of the group on 8 February 2022.
Attendees and apologies
- Angela O'Hagen (Chair)
- Alison Hosie, Scottish Human Rights Commission
- Chris Birt, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
- Emma Congreve, Fraser of Allander Institute
- Joe Chalmers, Mainstreaming Administration and Learning Coordinator, SG (Secretariat, Minutes)
- Jude Telford, Mainstreaming and Strategy Unit, SG (Secretariat)
- Kenny Stewart, EHRC
- Liz Hawkins, Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser, SG
- Mirren Kelly, Local Government Finance, COSLA
- Richard Robinson, Audit Scotland
- Rob Priestley, Mainstreaming and Strategy Unit, SG
- Sara Cowan, Scottish Women’s Budget Group
- Tom Lamplugh, Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser, SG
- Trevor Owen, Mainstreaming and Strategy Unit, SG
- Ben Walsh, Resource Spending Review, SG
- Nuala Gormley, Resource Spending Review, SG
- Aileen Mcintosh, Feasibility of Distributional Analysis, SG
- Jackie Wilkins, Feasibility of Distributional Analysis, SG
- Eilidh MacDonald, Internal Market Act, SG
- Euan Page, Internal Market Act, SG
- Alastair Noble, Internal Market Act, SG
- David Holmes, Head of Coordination and Briefing, Economic Policy and Capability Division, SG
- Dougie McLaren, Public Spending, SG
- Fiona Page, Scottish Budget Unit, SG
- Joanna Anderson, Policy Manager, COSLA
- Lisa McDonald, Economic Public Policy and Capability, SG
- Simon Steele, Scottish Budget Unit, SG
- Tim Ellis, Deputy Director for Performance & Outcomes, SG
Items and actions
Equality & Fairer Scotland Budget Statement
Discussions were held following the publication of the Equality & Fairer Scotland Budget Statement (EFSBS). EBAG members were pleased with the Annex provided with the statement. It was commented it was challenging to gauge a sense of the overall impact, due to there being more of a focus on detail in relation to how the spend will target the problems identified. There was also comments on a lack of? consistency across the portfolios in the presentation of the templates.
The increased transparency in spend was welcomed by the EBAG members and the use of key risks, which has been mentioned in the EBAG recommendations, was valuable. SG officials stated that some of the improvement identified had been driven by work on the wider mainstreaming agenda and not exclusively the budget improvement process View were shared on how policy thinking drives how the spend is/was identified and equality impact is being seen more throughout the process.
Members queried how Parliamentary Committees will use the statement, and also expressed the need for equality and human rights stakeholders to use the document more. SG officials agreed that it was important to understand who this is useful for.
Secretariat to consider further how to effectively engage stakeholder to ensure the EFSBS is widely and effectively used.
Resource spending review
Ben Walsh introduced the upcoming Resource Spending Review (RSR) to the committee including its purpose, principles and priorities. Key points were as follows:
the purpose of the RSR is to maximise the outcomes of the Scottish Government’s limited funding while maintaining fiscal sustainability
The output of the RSR will be multi-year spending plans for the Scottish Government covering the remainder of the parliamentary term, and this is due to be published in May 2022.
In order to provide the Scottish Government with the necessary spending powers an annual budget with associated legislation will still be required
Principles of the review are evidence based, outcomes focused and consultative. It is focused on delivering effective services for the people of Scotland today and maintain sustainable public finances that ensure we can meet the needs of future generations too. It is framed around key SG priorities including tackling child poverty; addressing climate change; and securing a stronger, fairer, greener economy – all underpinned by a commitment to strong, responsive public services
There has been internal work on the RSR over the past year. The external process for the review started with the public consultation that opened in December 2021, due to close in late March 2022
Equality and human rights are being considered throughout the process – including in the consultation, commissioning of options (including both investment and reform) and assessment / allocations phase
Earlier comments made surrounding the EFSBS were noted and it was stated that they would be considered in the ongoing development of the Resource Spending Review
In subsequent discussion, questions were raised about labelling of the approach to embedding equality and human rights as “proportionate”, wording used in the document published in December. Ben advised that the approach is designed to integrate equality assessment into all phases of the RSR but is also cognisant of the variety of lenses being applied to each option and constraints and challenges faced by policy officials in seeking to consider a variety of options in a complex landscape
Comments were made about primarily internal ideas being sought for so called “game changing” solutions and expressed concern about a similar ask not being made of external organisations. Ben highlighted the opportunity for individuals and external organisations to respond through the consultation and share any ideas that they considered to be helpful.
Ben concluded the discussion thanking members for their input and undertook to consider further the issues raised. He highlighted that both internal and external comments about the process would be appreciated and Angela suggested that meeting with EBAG before publication of the final document in May would be helpful.
Feasibility of distributional analysis
SG officials from the Strategic Insights market delivered a presentation on the feasibility of distributional analysis, following a paper released in March 2021.
EBAG members welcomed the work done on this paper and believed it would be a useful tool for the RSR as well the baseline assessment being able to make clear and robust spending outcomes. EBAG are keen to continue to engage on future work relating to distributional analysis and it was commented that this was a very useful tool in further embedding equality into the Scottish Budget process.
Internal Market Act 2020
The officials from the Constitution and UK Relations Division presented their slides on the Internal Markets Act 2020, for which a paper was released in March 2021.
Due to the time restraints on the meeting, there was no opportunity for questions. Eilidh stated that they could be contacted should the group have any follow up comments.
Any other business
No items were raised in under any other business
The next meeting is a Deep Dive on Social care, scheduled for Tuesday 12 April.
Telephone: 0300 244 4000
Equality and Budget Advisory Group
Mainstreaming and Strategy Unit
Area 3H North
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