THE Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderick O’Gorman TD and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD, have updated the government on the Equality Budgeting initiative and have received agreement to mainstream the approach to equality budgeting and build on the progress to date in this area.
Equality budgeting was introduced by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in 2017 to highlight how certain areas of expenditure are intended to promote equality policies and outcomes.
Built upon the existing ‘performance budgeting’ framework, which links expenditure to intended outputs and impacts, equality budgeting was initially piloted on a limited number of areas, with gender as a primary axis of equality. Six departments were involved in the pilot but that has increased to twelve departments now reporting to DPER on equality metrics as part of the Revised Estimates.
In 2018, an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group was established, with significant independent membership, to oversee and guide the development of equality budgeting.
In 2019, taking account of the feedback from the Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group, the OECD was commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the (then) Department of Justice and Equality to conduct a review of Ireland’s approach to equality budgeting.
This work was undertaken to both accelerate the uptake and impact of the initiative and to take account of developments in international good practice.
Since publication of the OECD Policy Scan of Equality Budgeting in Ireland, there have been further developments in this area with the completion of an Equality Data audit, conducted by the CSO and published on their website and with work underway to progress the Programme for Government commitment regarding the introduction of a Wellbeing Framework.
This work will build upon progress to date on performance budgeting and will integrate and support the equality budgeting agenda.
Minister McGrath said: “The past year has highlighted the importance of measuring the progress of society in ways that go beyond traditional metrics like GDP.
“If we are going to tackle the inequalities experienced by marginalised groups, we need to measure it and actively pursue policies to change that reality.
“This agreement from government shows our commitment to progress this very important work, right across all areas of government, to ensure that public funds are spent in a targeted way to ensure they deliver the right impacts.
“Equality must be at the heart of policy making decisions to improve opportunities for women in the workforce and to improve access to educational opportunities for low income households.”
Government has agreed to establish an inter-departmental network to fully implement equality budgeting in line with recommendations contained in the OECD review.