Scots public bodies ‘should put human rights at heart of budgeting’

7 Feb 18

Scottish public authorities are being urged to take greater account of human rights when planning their budgets under an initiative launched today.

The project, led by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, encourages public sector budget holders to ensure financial decisions have a positive impact on people’s rights.

It aims to produce a toolkit for scrutinising public spending decisions that directly affect people’s lives. The toolkit will be based on the conclusions of a masterclass at which participants learn how to progress economic, social and cultural rights through effective budgeting, as well as a series of workshops to broaden understanding of key rights, such as the right to food, housing and social security.

The initiative will also deliver a baseline analysis of the Scottish Government’s 2018-19 budget, including a set of benchmarks that can be used to measure the government’s progress year on year in meeting its human rights obligations.

The initiative, which is supported by funding from the European Union, follows a call by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee to develop a national framework for human rights based budgeting.

Launching the project, committee convener Christina McKelvie said: “We want to keep Scotland leading in the field of human rights based budgeting. We hope that a Scotland wide ‘national direction’ on human rights budgeting will follow, ensuring everyone, particularly protected groups, are helped and not hurt by the public pound.”

Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said a national framework for human rights-based budgeting was something the commission had strongly supported.

“There is significant political will in Scotland to progress people’s human rights and we have witnessed some positive engagement from public authorities to reinforce this,” she said. “We look forward to working on this project to develop practical ways to help public authorities understand how best to protect the rights of every person in Scotland through their budget setting.”

Ian Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, highlighted the importance of human rights to disabled people and those living with long term conditions, as well as unpaid carers. “Human rights budgeting would help realise these rights, and we believe this initiative will help to further stimulate discussion and add to the growing body of work in this area,” he said.

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