This year's budget has been set in exceptional circumstances. It follows on from the lingering impact of the UK's exit from the European Union, the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. All of these have contributed to a cost of living crisis that will not be felt equally. We have produced equality analysis of the budget for over 10 years now and this is more important than ever this year due to the difficult decisions required during this crisis and in the current economic environment.
Making decisions faced with these pressures and economic uncertainty is challenging but it is critical we make the right decisions to make Scotland fairer and more equal. The evidence shows that low income households are most at risk in the current circumstances, and the risk is even greater for those where this low income intersects with other forms of disadvantage. This means when budget decisions need to be made, and made quickly, it is important they are made with an understanding of who will be affected, and how.
The Scottish Government's 2023-24 Budget aims to address three key priorities: eradicating child poverty; transforming the economy to deliver a just transition to net zero; and achieving sustainable public services. Delivery of these priorities should play a substantial part in continuing our work to make Scotland more equal and fairer.
In order to support our ambition to eradicate child poverty, and help those in need address the cost of living crisis, the Scottish Government has made further significant investment in the social security system, increasing the funding by over £1 billion compared to 2022-23. This funding allows us to provide support through the five family payments, including the Scottish Child Payment, support for disabled people to live independently and support for those in need. In the 2023-24 Budget we have taken the significant step of uprating all Scottish benefits in April 2023 in line with September CPI (10.1%), having already uprated the Scottish Child Payment in November 2022. We have also substantially invested in the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments in order to mitigate the ongoing impact of UK Government cuts during this difficult time.
This Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement sets out how the government has assessed the impact that the budget makes to equality and fairness, and how these considerations have influenced our budget decisions. This statement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that all of Scotland's people can fulfil their potential regardless of who, and what their circumstances are.
We remain committed to ensuring equality and human rights underpin our budget processes. This past year we have expanded the remit of the Equality Budget Advisory Group to include Human Rights. We are continuing to look to the Equality and Human Rights Budget Advisory Group both to provide challenge and support for analysis such as is presented this document, and as we further embed the principles of Transparency, Participation and Accountability in our budget processes.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
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