Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Questions (74)

John Lahart


74. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress being made on equality budgeting by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20391/21]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Beginning with a pilot programme introduced for the 2018 budgetary cycle, Equality Budgeting is a way of approaching and understanding the budget as a process that embodies long-standing societal choices about how resources are used, rather than simply a neutral process of resource allocation. In practice, this means that equality budgeting attempts to provide greater information on how proposed or ongoing budgetary decisions impact on particular groups in society, thereby integrating equality concerns into the budgetary process.

Equality objectives and indicators are published every year in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) and the Public Service Performance Report. The initial focus of Equality Budgeting was on gender, following which the initiative was extended to other dimensions of equality. Twelve departments are now reporting Equality Budgeting metrics. An Expert Advisory Group was established to guide development of Equality Budgeting policy, and has met regularly since September 2018.

In 2019, the OECD published a report on Equality Budgeting in Ireland, providing 12 recommendations on how to drive this initiative forward. Implementation of the report's recommendations is currently underway.

In line with the OECD recommendation to develop an equalities data strategy, the CSO completed a data audit in cooperation with my Department, to ascertain the availability of public service data that is disaggregated by equality dimension. A report on this audit was published in October 2020.

Another OECD recommendation was the development of tagging and tracking functionality for departmental expenditure. Officials from my Department recently completed a two-day study visit (online) to learn about the approach of the French government to tagging and tracking expenditure. This visit was part of an overall project to create a new architecture for Performance Budgeting. This project is funded under the EU Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP).

On March 9th 2021, the Government agreed to the establishment of an inter-departmental group for Equality Budgeting to facilitate the embedding of the initiative across all Government departments. This group will play a key role in guiding the continued progress of Equality Budgeting.