Why we did it
This is an ongoing project by the Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust to analyse the impact of government budgets and spending reviews by gender, race and income.
A key part of the project is our latest report, Intersecting Inequalities, looks at the cumulative impact of spending cuts since 2010 on Black and Minority Ethnic women.
This is the first intersectional analysis of the cumulative impact of austerity using both qualitative and quantitative data. It was researched and written in partnership with Coventry Women’s Voices and RECLAIM, a Manchester-based youth leadership and social change charity.
In June 2010, George Osborne, the then Chancellor, announced a programme of public spending cuts totalling £83bn, ushering in an era of austerity. In the seven years since there have been further cuts to social security, civil legal aid and public services. Freezes in public sector pay and job losses.
Equality Impact Assessments allow public bodies to demonstrate that they have met their obligations under the duty. Yet the Treasury failed to publish an equality impact assessment of the June 2010 budget. Subsequent budgets and spending reviews have contained limited or no equality impact assessments. In 2016 the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee criticised the Treasury’s lack of transparency in this area and urged reform. The 2017 Budget documents contained no equality impact assessment at all.
Individual government departments have published the occasional equality impact assessment of cuts or changes to some benefits and services, but these have often been of poor quality, with little evidence to support conclusions. These efforts involve minimal or no consultation, and demonstrate limited understanding of equality impact.
In the absence of equality impact assessments by government departments, voluntary organisations and academics have produced their own assessments of the potential and actual impact of spending cuts on different equality groups.
The findings of these reports indicate that BME women would be likely to be have been badly affected by spending cuts since 2010. This is unsurprising; BME women have lower incomes on average and are disproportionately likely to live in poverty. They are disproportionately likely to live in families with children (families with children have been hit harder by cuts to both benefits and services) and to be working in the public sector. These factors make BME women more vulnerable to the impact of public spending cuts.
Previous WBG gender analysis has identified particular policies that were likely to have a disproportionate impact on particular groups of women, such as BME women or disabled women. But it is only in the last year, thanks to the support of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, that WBG, in partnership with the Runnymede Trust, has had the resources to carry out an intersectional distributional analysis of the Budget looking at race, gender and income together.
Our aim in carrying out this research is two-fold. Firstly, to provide evidence of the impact of spending cuts on BME women, in order to support calls for an end to austerity. Secondly, we aim to demonstrate that this sort of research is possible.
We hope this may will persuade the Treasury to carry out similar intersectional analysis of its own.