Written answers

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Department of Finance

Equality Proofing of Budgets

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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129. To ask the Minister for Finance the way in which the commitment to gender and equality proofing will be reflected in the October financial strategy and budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19448/20]

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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130. To ask the Minister for Finance the way in which the public sector equality and human rights duty will be reflected in the October financial strategy and budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19449/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 130 together.

The Government’s belief in the importance of gender and equality proofing remains an integral part of our overall commitments in dealing with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, the National Economic Plan will reaffirm the approach set out in the Programme for Government, which states that we will build upon our response to the pandemic, to improve outcomes for those who are struggling on low incomes, struggling with caring responsibilities, or having to raise their families alone and those who are living with a disability. This will be achieved through rigorous implementation of the new social inclusion strategy, A Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025, including gender and equality proofing of any changes to social welfare provision.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has implemented a number of reforms in the area of equality budgeting in recent years. A pilot programme of equality budgeting was introduced for the 2018 budgetary cycle, anchored in the existing performance budgeting framework. Equality Budgeting was expanded in 2019 to further develop the gender budgeting elements and to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. To further guide the roll-out of equality budgeting, an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group was established. This group is comprised of a broad range of relevant stakeholders and policy experts to provide advice on the most effective way to advance equality budgeting policy and progress the initiative.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in liaison with the Department of Justice and Equality, commissioned the OECD to undertake a Policy Scan of Equality Budgeting in Ireland. This was published in tandem with Budget 2020. The report reviews Ireland’s equality budgeting programme and provides recommendations on its further development, in light of international experience. This ongoing process is further guided by the work of the Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group.

As outlined in the ‘Programme for Government - Our Shared Future’, the government has committed to developing a set of wellbeing indicators to give a more well-rounded, holistic view of how our society is faring. Initially focusing on housing, education and health, a set of indicators will be developed to create a broader context for policy-making, to include a balanced scorecard for each area of public policy, focused on outcomes and the impact that those policies have on individuals and communities. The overriding focus is to improve the wellbeing of the Irish people and society.

The development of this work will be informed by the experience of other jurisdictions which have developed similar measures in recent years. Through the Department of the Taoiseach, a group of experts will be convened from the public service, academia, NGOs, and the private sector to guide this work. Once developed, Government will ensure that it is utilised in a systematic way across government policy-making at local and national levels, in setting budgetary priorities, evaluating programmes and reporting progress. This will be an important complement to existing economic measurement tools that are in place to support well-being and outcomes-based approaches to policy making.

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