S31 Progress Report FAQs

Find answers to commonly asked questions about the Assessment. If your question is not answered within this section, please send it to us via the e-mail address: HMTreasuryS31@equalityhumanrights.com

The impact of spending cuts can be widely seen: for example on women and disabled people. Why is the EHRC focusing on improving the way impacts are assessed rather than taking action on the negative effects?

Better use across government of equality evidence to support the spending decisions it makes will lead to more transparent and fairer policy and decision-making. An evidence-base that highlights where negative impacts are likely will also support the introduction of mitigations and changes to the policy as it is being introduced.

Many of the measures that we highlighted in the S31 Assessment report “Making Fair Financial Decisions” were not implemented straight away and it has taken departments and ourselves time from implementation of the measures to gather data by which the measures and their aims and outcomes can be analysed.

Also we've put in place development work to find practical ways of using equality evidence more effectively for spending reviews. We've commissioned NIESR and Landman Economics to help us and we're testing ideas with an expert Advisory Group including Treasury, government departments and stakeholders. We want to be sure that improvements are well thought out, and work for people who will take them forward and for people with different protected characteristics who are affected by spending decisions.

The Treasury and all the departments who had a measure highlighted in the S31 Assessment report were invited to join along with the organisations that had made representations to the S31 Assessment. Several other organisations who were already doing work in this area eg IFS were also invited along with the organisations that were involved in the research and modelling work commissioned for the S31 follow up project. Key stakeholders such as EFD, Fawcett, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Runnymede sit on the Group.

Departments were very open with the Commission regarding what they were going to evaluate and how this would be done, there are examples of this in Section 3 of the Progress Report.

We found that monitoring of the SR 10 measures is in place and that impact on people with protected characteristics forms some part of this. Some measures are still in the early stages of implementation and some, for instance the localisation of Council Tax support, makes it more complicated to get a full picture of how the measures are impacting and on whom.

We thought there was scope for PSED requirements to be more formalised as part of monitoring and evaluation planning. And more systematised collection and sharing of evidence between central government and local councils and others would improve the quality of equality evidence for future spending rounds

The Commission has initiated a number of research projects to support its work and provide input to the Advisory Group. A key piece of this has been the cumulative equality impact modelling being developing and piloted by Landman Economics and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR). A proposed approach to modelling for testing will be finalised after further feed-back and a case study of cumulative impact of fiscal decisions 2010-2015 will be prepared, with a report to EHRC on the modelling methodology and findings Spring 2014. The Commission intends to publish this late June/July 2014.

Next steps:

The progress report sets out further recommendations which the Commission will continue to work on with the advisory group. These include:

  • Clarifying a single point within government with formal responsibility for monitoring and assessing the cumulative impact of future spending reviews on people sharing different protected characteristics
  • Continuing to make improvements in the quality of data collection and use in order to support the assessment of impacts on different groups
  • Developing a cumulative impact modelling methodology for use with future spending reviews and fiscal events
  • Considering building on the report on equalities impact that HM Treasury published alongside the Spending Review 2013, by producing brief summary reports alongside fiscal events
  • Improving scrutiny of impact on different groups by: (a) extending the role of the Independent Challenge Groups for spending reviews to include equality as one of the issues they look at, and (b) identifying an independent body to scrutinise the impact of spending reviews and fiscal events on people sharing different protected characteristics.

Last updated: 10 Oct 2016