FAWCETT SOCIETY TO TAKE GOV'T TO COURT OVER 'UNLAWFUL BUDGET'
The Fawcett Society has filed papers with the High Court seeking a
Judicial Review of the government's recent emergency budget. (1)
Under equality laws, we believe the government should have assessed
whether its budget proposals would increase or reduce inequality between
women and men. Despite repeated requests, the Treasury have not
provided any evidence that any such assessment took place. (2)
Even a top line assessment of the budget measures show 72 per cent of
cuts will be met from women's income as opposed to 28 per cent from
men's. This is because many of the cuts are to the benefits that more
women than men rely on, and the changes to the the tax system will
benefit far more men than women. (3)
Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said:
"Successive governments have failed to give enough consideration to how
their policies will impact on equality between men and women, but this
budget shows a whole new level of disregard for the importance of
equality law and everyday women's lives.
"The blatant unfairness and the sheer scale of the impact this budget
could have on women have left us little choice but to resort to the
courts for action.
"In times of economic crisis it becomes more not less important to
consider women's basic rights, and observe the laws put there to
safeguard them. We know action is needed to cut the deficit but such
critical decisions - especially such eye-watering cuts to public
spending - should not have been made without considering the impact on
"It's ironic that a budget that in many other ways was the most
transparent for decades seems to have failed to consider and publish its
impact on half the population. We are sure that many MPs would think
twice about these measures had they realised the basic questions hadn't
been looked at.
"Women already earn less, own less, and have less control over their
finances than men. Yet some £5.8 billion of the £8 billion of cuts
contained in the budget will be taken from women, who will also be worst
affected by the coming cuts to public services - 65 per cent of public
sector workers are women.
"We are calling on the government to look again at the budget, and to
ensure that all government departments undertake a robust and
transparent gender equality impact assessment of proposals being
discussed in the current spending review before final decisions are made.
"If they believe women should bear a greater burden of cutting the
deficit they should come out and say so."
The Fawcett Society's solicitor, Samantha Mangwana, of Russell Jones &
Walker solicitors, said:
"Although public authorities have been subject to the gender equality
duty for several years now, there is widespread ignorance not only about
how strong these laws actually are, but also what specific steps are
required to be undertaken. However, the case law is crystal clear in
spelling this out. Firstly, an equality impact assessment must be
conducted before policy decisions are taken.
"Secondly, where an assessment reveals a risk of discrimination, urgent
action must be taken to address those risks. Clearly, if the equality
impact is not even assessed as a starting point, a public authority
cannot start to consider what steps to take to mitigate any inequality ."
Notes to Editors:
(1) A permission hearing will be held to determine whether the judicial
review is granted. No date has yet been set.
(2) In not assessing the way in which the budget will impact differently
on women and men, we believe the Treasury has not met the requirements
of the Gender Equality Duty, under sections 76A and 76B of the Sex
Discrimination Act 1975.
(3) More on the impact of the budget on women and men can be found in
the Women's Budget Group's response to the emergency budget, the recent
House of Commons Library gender audit of the budget, and the Fawcett
Society's initial response to the budget. All are available on our
website: http://www.fawcetts ociety.org. uk/index. asp?PageID= 9
(4) A written background briefing (also available on our website) and /
or a legal briefing about the case are available.
Please call 07767 297 812 or email
Charlie.woodworth@ fawcettsociety. org.uk
Oh Gods I hope they win. I don't think they will, but I really hope they do!