The Fawcett Society is seeking a judicial review of the ConDem coalition’s ’emergency’ budget, on the grounds that it is detrimental to women and that the Treasury had not undertaken the required equalities impact assessment.
The Fawcett Society believes that 72% of the cuts proposed in the budget (£5.8bn out of £8bn) will come out of the income of women, since the majority of cuts are to benefits on which women rely while changes to the tax system will benefit more women than men. Given that 65% of public sector workers are women, public sector cuts are also likely to have a disportionate impact in this respect, too.
An equalities impact assessment must be conducted under the law before policy decisions are taken, so that steps can be taken to mitigate any adverse impact identified. However, the Fawcett Society reports that, ‘despite repeated requests’, the Treasury has produced no evidence that such an assessment took place.
The Society may not be successful in getting the whole budget declared unlawful. But the Treasury does need to come up with some proof that it has considered, and sought to mitigate, the impact on women as identified in the Society’s headline figures. Especially in a time of recession, the need for equality must remain a prime consideration and the Treasury needs to be held to account for its apparent failures.
Hat-tip: the TUC’s ToUChstone blog.