Equality organisations have demanded assurances from Ministers that the Government has carried out equality impact assessments on any spending cuts in next week’s Comprehensive Sending Review.
The English Regions Equality Network – which comprises equality bodies across the country, including Equality South West – has written to Ministers ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday, October 20 asking them whether the assessments have been carried out as required.
The letter from EREN said: “We urge you to use your statutory responsibilities in respect of all equality areas to demonstrate that a fair process has been applied to funding decisions.
“Equally, it is important to ensure that funding cuts are not undertaken in a way which unfairly affects some parts of England more than others.”
The Government has a statutory duty to carry equality impact assessments on all proposed changes to legislation, policy and budgets to ensure they do not disproportionally affect vulnerable groups.
In August, the Fawcett Society applied for a Judicial Review of the Government’s budget proposals which it believes will increase inequality between women and men. It said: “Despite repeated requests, the Treasury have not provided any evidence that any such an assessment took place.”
Now equality organisations from across England have written to the Government to ask whether they have indeed carried out the assessments as required, and to voice concerns about ‘the potential for significant and long lasting harm’ caused by the spending cuts.
In addition to the EREN letter, the individual equality organisations have also written to Ministers in their own capacity.
Paul Dunn, chief executive of Equality South West, said he was seeking assurances from Ministers that the Government had fulfilled its statutory duties.
“The Government has a duty to carry out a statutory assessment of the impact of spending cuts on vulnerable people,” he said.
“These people include individuals from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual and disabled people, to name but a few.”
Paul said funding cuts and changes to the allocation of Government spend had already had a significant negative impact on many voluntary and community sector organisations.
“Without a comprehensive approach to equality impact assessments of any proposed funding cuts, it is likely that many more organisations and projects will cease to exist,” he added.
“It is these organisations and projects that support and enrich the lives of many vulnerable people in the region.”