February 27, 2015, by Public Social Policy
Why the UK Government doesn’t know if its welfare reforms are discriminating against the most vulnerable people in Britain
by Simon Roberts and Bruce Stafford
In his blog earlier this week Bruce showed that austerity is significantly underpinned by cuts to social security and as a consequence the most vulnerable are making the largest contribution to the public expenditure cuts. The targeted cuts have affected most non-pensioners in receipt of benefits notably the long term sick and disabled. Policy makers are required by the Public Sector Equality Duty contained in the Equality Act 2010 to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities. The Equality Duty is an evidence-based duty which requires government and other public authorities to assess the likely effects of policy on vulnerable groups. Research carried out by the International Centre for Public and Social Policy (IcPSP) at Nottingham University suggests that the impacts of the welfare reforms introduced since 2010 were only systematically assessed by age and gender, and the impacts on disability and ethnicity have only been assessed where data was already available. Little or no assessment was made for other vulnerable groups. Moreover, there was no attempt to gauge the cumulative impact of the reforms on the protected groups including on women and disabled people. Put bluntly, the Government does not know how its reform package has affected some of the most vulnerable people in society. There is also extensive evidence of the Government’s own Equality Impact Assessments finding a disproportionate negative effect of a measure on vulnerable individuals where no action has subsequently been taken to offset these impacts.
Image by Joe Hunt
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