My Department routinely assesses the impact of budgetary measures on inequality. As part of this distributional analysis, the effect of tax and welfare changes by income band is examined. This is undertaken using the Economic and Social Research Institute's, ESRI’s, SWITCH micro-simulation model.
In the context of budget 2019, this analysis found that the combined tax and welfare measures delivered the largest gains for those in the lowest income group. They experienced a 0.5% increase in their disposable income. This analysis confirms the intent of budget 2019 to protect our most vulnerable in our society.
Of course I am aware of the analysis and critique study published by SJI, which conducted a partial review of budget measures. This analysis excluded the impact of indirect taxes and important non-tax and welfare measures such as raising the minimum wage and changes to prescription charges. The alternative findings in the SJI study underscore the importance of looking at the impact of the full range of budgetary measures in order to reach a comprehensive view of the distributional impact of the budget.
I have taken a number of important steps in the sphere of equality budgeting. I have piloted an equality budgeting initiative across six programmes in 2018, as part of which associated objectives and indicators were published in the 2018 revised estimates volume. The pilot programme predominantly looks at gender and is anchored in the existing performance budgeting framework. However, it is my intention to expand this programme to capture broader dimensions of equality, including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability.