The Section 31 assessment final report

Making fair financial decisions - an assessment of HM Treasury's 2010 spending review S31

In May 2012, using its unique powers, the Commission conducted a section 31 Assessment of the extent to which HM Treasury met its legal obligations to consider the impact of Spending Review decisions on protected groups. The final report sets out the main findings from this work, which concludes that overall, there was a serious effort by ministers and officials to meet their obligations, for example:

  • an equalities overview document was published alongside the Spending Review for the first time, and
  • equality ministers formally drew departments' attention to the requirements of the equality duties.

There are also examples of good practice. However, in three cases, the Commission's detailed examination was unable to establish whether or not the decisions were in full accord with the requirements of the duty because of a lack of clarity as to

a) where the true site of the decisions lay and
b) whether or not some decisions were the responsibility of other government departments or the government as a whole.

The Commission has therefore made various recommendations, which we believe will better assure future compliance and good practice in cross-government spending reviews, including:

  • greater transparency, including clear HM Treasury guidance on data and analytical requirements for the whole of government
  • authoritative sources of advice and support for government departments on equality impact analysis

We will work with HM Treasury and other government departments to ensure that the impact of the 2010 Spending Review on protected groups is understood as the measures are rolled out over the next two to three years.

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Last updated: 14 Apr 2016