Resource Spending Review: Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement
This report considers some of the key opportunities and challenges that the Scottish Government faces over this parliamentary term; what these mean for inequality, fairness and human rights; and how the spending review and other initiatives respond.
What is the Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement?
The 2022 Resource Spending Review (RSR) is the first spending review for resource budgets that the Scottish Government has undertaken in over a decade. We have taken an innovative approach to address the issues arising from the spending review. The spending review focuses on the overall direction of our public finances over the remainder of the parliamentary term. It offers a strategic funding framework for the Scottish Government and our many partners to plan for the future, rather than detailed budget information.
In line with the core RSR publication, in the Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement (EFSS) we have taken a strategic approach wherein we detail and consider, based on evidence, some of the key opportunities and challenges that the Scottish Government faces over this parliamentary term; what these mean for inequality, fairness, and human rights; and how the spending review and other initiatives respond. In doing so we have taken a cross-government lens and built upon the work taken forward annually over the past decade to analyse the equality impacts of the Scottish Budget. Our approach is informed by the wider landscape, which includes the Public Sector Equality and Fairer Scotland Duties, and the work of the Equality Budget Advisory Group (EBAG). In particular we note EBAG's recommendations on measures to improve the Scottish Budget process, which we will respond to in Summer 2022. This landscape also includes our work to further embed equality and human rights across Scottish Government policy and delivery through the development of a mainstreaming strategy and key programmes, like the development of a Human Rights Bill.
Further to this, the EFSS sets out how we will undertake impact assessments of the early-stage proposals outlined in the RSR in the future.
What is the Resource Spending Review?
The RSR has been developed in a period of substantial uncertainty, shocks and changes, which continue to transform the world in which we live. As set out in the spending review, since December 2021 we have seen the devastating Russian invasion of Ukraine, a worsening cost of living crisis and the highest level of inflation for more than 40 years. This cements the need for the Scottish Government to provide as much clarity as possible to stakeholders, partners, and citizens.
Within this context, the spending review sets out high-level spending parameters for each portfolio for the remainder of the parliamentary term (2023-24 to 2026-27) and details potential reform and efficiency options that will be taken forward to improve the delivery of outcomes and the Scottish Government's fiscal sustainability. Budgets will continue to be published annually and provide a greater level of detail.
As the name suggests, the RSR is focused on plans for resource spending. Resource spending is money that is spent on administration and the day-to-day delivery of services and programmes, such as school meals, concessionary bus travel, and most public sector salaries.
The RSR builds on the Capital Spending Review published in 2021, which sets out Scotland's multi-year plans for infrastructure investment. The outcome of a targeted review of the Capital Spending Review has been published alongside the RSR, providing updated spending allocations. Together these two spending reviews give a high-level picture of Scotland's multi-year public spending plans.
Our approach to impact assessment in the RSR
We have considered equality, fairness, and human rights impacts throughout the spending review process, not only in this statement. This has covered both the external consultation process and the internal elements of the spending review.
As part of the public consultation, we asked respondents to provide views on equality and human rights impacts that should be considered in the context of the spending review's priorities and the primary drivers of public spending. The public consultation opened on 9 December 2021, with the publication of the Resource Spending Review Framework, and closed on 27 March 2022. It received 72 responses, 15 from individuals and 57 from organisations. The online consultation was complemented by six external engagement sessions with stakeholders in March, April and May 2022. This included a session with EBAG. An analysis of the responses to the consultation and the engagement has been published alongside the RSR.
In response to our consultation question on equality, respondents provided the following views:
- Tackling inequality and realising human rights should be a key focus of the spending review. Respondents identified a range of groups of people who should be considered, including those with protected characteristics.
- Impact assessment is a vital element of decision making and should be an integral part of any process such as spending reviews. It should not be limited to analysis that only considers the final outcomes of a decision or budget allocations. Assessments should include analysis disaggregated by protected characteristics and socio-economic disadvantage, as well as intersectional analysis where possible.
- It is important to seek out and include the views of more marginalised communities and include those with lived experience in exercises like the spending review.
- Human rights and gender responsive approaches to budgeting provide examples of valuable tools to ensure that proposals and policies address inequality.
Throughout the internal process to develop, refine, and agree proposals for the RSR we integrated various elements of impact assessment, building on available evidence and existing assessment.
The Scottish Government will review the equality, fairness, and human rights assessment of the spending review process itself to improve our approach going forward. In particular this will be with a view to what this might mean for the annual Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement (EFSBS) and our ambitions to further embed equality and human rights in the Scottish Budget process, as outlined in the Bute House Agreement and 2021-22 Programme for Government.
Our approach to the Equality and Fairer Scotland Statement
To produce the EFSS analysts and policy professionals working across each of the Scottish Government's ministerial portfolios were asked to consider nine key opportunities and challenges facing the Scottish Government. More detail on the specific opportunities and challenges is included in the next section.
For each opportunity and challenge, portfolios were asked:
- What does evidence tell us about the potential impacts on inequality and what is effective in reducing inequality and maximising positive impacts?
- What is the Scottish Government's response?
This information was used to draft the sections below on opportunities and challenges. In these, we have focused on the key evidence around inequality and how the Scottish Government has responded or proposes to respond. Taking this overarching view of the key areas of focus allows us to set out an evidenced basis for some of the inequalities that the Scottish Government will tackle over the next four years.
The financial information in the spending review has been provided at Budget level 2 (i.e., sub-portfolio level, for example Community Health Services within the Health and Social Care portfolio), in anticipation of the additional work now required to produce more detailed financial planning information. As the RSR sets out, we intend to collaborate with our partners and stakeholders in developing more comprehensive plans. In line with this, many of the proposals for reform are at an early or conceptual stage. As such, it has not been possible to undertake meaningful individual impact assessments on a portfolio-by-portfolio basis, as would be the case in the EFSBS. Instead, we propose to use the evidence presented in this statement as a framework for future impact assessments as the proposals are developed and taken forward. More information on this approach, and where we will produce information around our impact assessments, is provided in the Next steps section of this document.
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