Public Sector Equality Duty - operation review: consultation analysis
Independent analysis of consultation responses to the Scottish Government Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) Review. The consultation ran from 13 December 2021 to 11 April 2022.
12 Intersectional Gender Budget Analysis
The Consultation Paper notes that the Scottish Government has committed to take steps to further embed equality and human rights in all stages of the Budget process in the Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2021/22, and in the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party Shared Policy Programme. Interest in understanding budgets from various perspectives has grown in recent years, and a number of recommendations and proposals relating to budget analysis have been made to the Scottish Government, covering interests from equality, to human rights and children's rights.
Amongst these proposals, the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls has recommended that the Scottish Government "integrate intersectional Gender Budget Analysis into the Scottish Budget process, and to give this a statutory footing". An intersectional gender budgeting approach would involve analysing budgets by more than one category, for example, examining not only how a spending proposal might impact women and girls compared to men and boys, but additionally, how that proposal might impact disabled women compared to non-disabled women. The relevant intersectional breakdowns of groups would depend on the budget decision under consideration. Also, for the purposes of the Scottish Specific Duties (SSDs) any reference to the intersectional disaggregation of data would only be on the basis of the relevant protected characteristics, and would not likely be able to encompass other factors such as socio-economic disadvantage, which is addressed through the Fairer Scotland Duty.
12.2 Question 9.1 – Intersectional Gender Budget
The First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls' called for the Scottish Government to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into the Scottish Budget process, and to place this on a statutory footing. What are your views on this?
Most respondents answered Question 9.1 (80%).
Note: there may have been some potential misunderstanding of the question among respondents. Some respondents refer to the capacity of listed authorities and/or their own organisation to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into budget setting procedures rather than the Scottish Budget process.
12.2.1 Respondents who support the proposal
Most respondents agree in principle with an intersectional approach to gender budget analysis. The main themes to emerge from respondents who express support for the proposal to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into the Scottish Budget process are summarised below.
Theme 1: Advance equality and human rights
A key theme from the consultation responses, particularly among equality advocacy groups, is that gender budget analysis has helped advance equality and increase understanding of the potential impact of spending proposals/budgets on women and girls. Integrating other protected characteristics into an intersectional approach is viewed by these respondents as a 'logical' extension to current duties and could help advance equality and human rights. There is reference across consultation responses to the protected characteristic of disability and the potential of the proposal to aid an increased understanding of the impact of spending proposals/budgets on people with multiple protected characteristics.
Some equality advocacy groups, such as Close the Gap, identify international examples of successful intersectional gender budget analysis and highlight the potential for Scotland to build on approaches happening elsewhere.
Theme 2: Strengthening leadership role
Some listed authorities note in their submissions that the proposal to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into the Scottish Budget process would allow the Scottish Government to show effective leadership in advancing equalities.
The same respondents further note that stronger leadership would be welcomed in "modelling good practice and demonstrating the practical value of methods including intersectional gender budget analysis", particularly if an additional duty is placed on listed authorities to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into their budget setting procedures.
12.2.2 Respondents who raise issues or concerns
Many respondents, including but not limited to those who support the proposal, caveat their response or raise points of concerns regarding the proposal. The points raised are similar to the response to Section 11 (Question 8):
- A common concern (mostly among listed authorities) is that the Scottish Government and their own organisations may lack the necessary capacity and resource to gather, analyse and use intersectional data in a meaningful way. Allied to this, a couple of respondents note that the "cost [of the Scottish Budget process] would increase" if integrating intersectional gender budget analysis into the process.
- Respondents consider that there are likely to be challenges in data gathering and reporting as "intersectional analysis may not lead to statistically relevant data".
- Respondents call for further information and guidance on what this proposal means in practice and implications for Scottish Government and listed authorities. A couple of respondents feel that there is a "lack of a strong evidence base for this proposal."
- Some respondents note that the proposal risks creating a hierarchy of protected characteristics. The point made is that legislating for one or some specific characteristics over others "may promote the impression that one type of equality is more important than another". Dumfries and Galloway College state that "not all issues relate directly to gender, so even badging this as intersectional under a gender umbrella is inappropriate".
12.2.3 Respondents who do not support the proposal
A few respondents (e.g. listed authorities) do not support the proposal. Their view is that it may be unnecessary to place this additional duty on a statutory footing. These respondents note that information on intersectionality is already captured or could be gathered through existing methods, such as Equality Impact Assessments (EqIA). For these respondents, the additional statutory duty in addition to these existing methods may increase the administrative burden by "[complicating] financial reporting and monitoring."
12.3 Question 9.2a – Integrating Intersectional Budget Analysis
The First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls' called for the Scottish Government to place an additional duty on listed authorities to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into their budget setting procedures. What are your views on this?
Most respondents answered this question (80%) with feedback similar to responses described at Section 11 (Question 8) and Section 12.2 (Question 9.1).
12.3.1 Respondents who support the proposal
Most respondents agree in principle with the proposal to place an additional duty on listed authorities to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into their budget setting procedures. This is reflected in feedback that highlights the importance and value of intersectional data in helping to understand issues faced by individuals with more than one protected characteristic. These respondents note that the proposal is "reasonable", "welcomed", and reflective of "the fact that we do not have one protected characteristic but many".
Theme 1: Potential benefits of the proposal
In addition to the points raised in Section 11 (Question 8), the potential benefits of the proposal are highlighted, mostly by equality advocacy groups. These are commonly framed as follows:
- The proposal would help to understand issues faced by individuals with more than one protected characteristic.
- The proposal would provide meaningful data for listed authorities and help them to target their resources more effectively.
- It would lead to greater accountability of budget setting processes within listed authorities.
"[The proposal] has the potential to create economic transformation, could help to mitigate many of the ongoing recruitment and retention issues that are present in the social care sector, and would strengthen accountability."
The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The ALLIANCE)
"[Intersectional gender budgeting] will help to examine how a budget proposal may affect men differently than women and result in a restructure of revenue and spending decisions in other to promote equal outcomes. For example, how a budget proposal might affect women and girls as compared to men and boys and additionally compare the impacts on disabled women as compared to non-disabled women. This will enable listed authorities identify and target their resources to where they are needed the most and maximise efficiency."
Registers of Scotland
12.3.2 Respondents who raise issues or concerns
Around half of respondents (e.g. mainly listed authorities) who are supportive of the proposal caveat their response in some way and raise concerns about their organisation's ability to meet the requirement. The main points raised by these respondents centre on:
- A need for additional support from the Scottish Government to help listed authorities meet the requirement (e.g. guidance, financial resources, etc).
- A call for a proportionate approach to implementation of the proposal.
12.3.3 Respondents who do not support the proposal
Around one-quarter of respondents, mostly listed authorities, explicitly state that they do not support the proposal to place an additional duty on listed authorities to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into their budget setting procedures. Similar points are made to those described in Section 11 (Question 8) and Section 12.2 (Question 9.1).
Some of these respondents describe the proposal as "unrealistic" or "unachievable". Much of the feedback reiterates difficulties in data collection, increased administrative burden, and the significant level of support that would be required to help listed authorities meet the requirement.
Another view held by a couple of listed authorities is that they agree in principle with the proposal and think it is a "positive step" but feel placing it on a statutory footing is not the best approach. The point made by these respondents is that existing budget analysis undertaken by their organisations from an equalities perspective is considered extensive.
12.4 Question 9.2b – Support Requirements
How could listed authorities be supported to meet this requirement?
Over two-thirds of respondents answered this question (69%), and the main points chime with responses to previous questions, namely:
- Updated and improved guidance from the Scottish Government.
- Financial support.
- Training/upskilling staff.
- Investment for IT equipment/updating processes.
12.5 Question 9.3a - Confidence
If an additional duty was placed on your organisation to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into its budget setting procedures, would you be confident your organisation could comply with it?
This question was directed to listed authorities. More than three-quarters of listed authorities report that they are not confident that their organisation could comply with an additional duty to integrate intersectional gender budget analysis into its budget setting procedures (79.4%), Table 12.1.
N=63. Excludes blank, not answered responses, and any responses not from a listed authority.
12.6 Question 9.3b – If Yes, Why
All listed authorities who are confident that their organisation could comply with the proposed additional duty provided a response.
Theme 1: Existing procedures can be easily amended
Listed authority confidence to meet the requirement mainly stems from their organisational ability to amend or modify existing processes and procedures, such as impact assessments.
For example, there is reference in consultation responses to "sophisticated" and well-established procedures relating to equality impact, "staff dedicated to equality, diversity and inclusion…as well as access to a range of protected characteristic data". These listed authorities feel that they would be well-placed to comply with the proposed additional duty.
Theme 2: Positive response is caveated in some way
Around half of listed authorities who have confidence in the ability of their organisation to comply with the requirement caveat their response or have some concerns in implementing the proposal:
- There is a request for clear guidance, training, and support.
- The ability of their organisation to meet the requirement may depend on the required level of detail.
12.7 Question 9.3c – If No, Support Needed
If no, what would you need to ensure you could comply by 2025?
As outlined above, most listed authorities are not confident in their organisation's ability to meet this requirement. As outlined elsewhere, the main feedback points to the need for comprehensive guidance, financial resources, and training for listed authorities.
"Not at this stage. To be able to comply by 2025, we would need to ensure the quality of training and human rights and equality analysis, as well as further changes to analytical tools in the budget process in order to fully realise the budget as a key mechanism for advancing equality and securing human rights. These improvements to process and capacity would be critical to ensure that gender budgeting approaches are well integrated."
West Lothian Council
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