Tackling inequality: guidance on making budget decisions

Informal guidance for policy makers on equality and human rights budgeting. The booklet challenges policy makers to systematically think through 6 key questions to identify ways in which budget decisions could be improved to advance human rights and address inequalities. Budget decisions include both those made about the money we spend and decisions about how revenue is raised.

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Question 5 Could the budget be used differently to better address existing inequalities of outcome and advance human rights?

Your examination of how the budget will impact on different people and places, and contribute to human rights, will have highlighted different impacts. The next step is to consider how your budgets could be used differently to achieve better outcomes. Just because a budget has been spent in a particular way in previous years doesn’t mean it should be spent in the same way in subsequent years.

Budget analysis will sometimes lead to a change in decision and sometimes it won’t. But it should ensure that decisions on the positions finally adopted are clear, accountable and well evidenced. For example, a key stage when completing a Fairer Scotland Duty assessment is to bring together evidence to consider potential improvements to the proposal, plan or decision in order to further reduce inequalities of outcome associated with socio-economic disadvantage. Where the policy does have detrimental or neutral impacts you have the opportunity to mitigate this.


The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act introduced ambitious targets to eradicate child poverty in Scotland. Scottish Government budgets already support, via a range of programmes, the three main drivers of child poverty reduction: increasing incomes from employment, reducing household costs and maximising incomes from social security. One example of how Scottish Government budgets will focus increasingly on these drivers is the commitment to an income supplement for low income families. A systematic approach was developed to assess policy and delivery options for a supplement and in June 2019 a new ‘Scottish Child Payment’ was announced with early roll-out to younger children who are more likely to be in poverty. This is estimated to cost £180 million by 2023-24 – a considerable investment in meeting the targets.


Email: Gillian.Achurch@gov.scot

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