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Holyrood committee calls for human rights-based approach to setting the budget

Ruth Maguire - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

Holyrood committee calls for human rights-based approach to setting the budget

A Holyrood committee has called for a human rights-based approach to setting the budget after COVID.

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee has called on the Scottish Government to set out how it intends to address the disproportionately negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on groups such as women and young people as well as disabled people and black and minority ethnic communities in its post-COVID economic recovery plan.

As part of the committee’s pre-budget scrutiny, MSPs heard evidence from a range of organisations on the financial implications of COVID-19 on local authorities and third sector equalities organisations and how health and social inequalities exacerbated by coronavirus can be addressed in Scotland’s economic recovery.

In a letter to the Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie, the committee called for human rights-based approach to budgeting, with more effective targeting of resources.

Committee convener Ruth Maguire said: “The committee is acutely aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health and social inequalities, increasing the demand on third sector support services and, as the crisis continues, placing increased pressure on public services.

“We are therefore asking the Scottish Government to commit to providing further financial support for the third sector in the longer term to take pressure away from public services, over and above the emergency funding provided.

“An equality and human rights-based approach to public spending, grounded in high-quality evidence and placed at the heart of decision-making, should be the cornerstone of this year’s budget.

“This would give the committee confidence that already disadvantaged people would not be forgotten, that there would not be unintended consequences and equalities impacts could be properly addressed.

“We are calling on the Scottish Government to clearly set out the specific actions it intends to take in its Economic Implementation Recovery Plan to address the gendered impact of the pandemic, as well as for other protected groups such as disabled, BME and young people.

“The committee is also seeking assurance that childcare will be treated as an economic issue and that the role of unpaid carers more generally will be translated into actions in the recovery plan.”

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