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Government Taken To Court Over Cuts Agenda

Whilst not reported by the general TV and radio news media, last Monday saw Fawcett’s bid for a judicial review of the budget reach the high court. We brought the case because we believe the government set the budget without assessing the likely impact on women’s equality - and so did not fulfil their duties under equality law. The result of this is a set of tax and spending choices that will affect everyone, but that will hit women disproportionately hard.

Whilst the society's concerns relate specifically to the affects of public sector cuts on women, it must not be forgotten that when it comes to health and safety at work, again women working in the public sector will be hit worst of all.

The purpose of the hearing was for a judge to decide whether to grant us a 'review' of the budget. While the judge did not grant us a review, we can count some major gains:

* The government admitted it had not carried out an adequate gender impact assessment of the budget - and expressed “regret" that this had not happened.

* The government committed to individual departments carrying out assessments of many of the measures in the budget as policies are developed further.

* The judge was clear that government budget decisions are subject to equality law, and so must recognise the need to promote equality between women and men and eliminate harassment. The Treasury's lawyers agreed that this was the case.

* Finally, the court found that with budget policies set to have such a dramatically different impact on women and men, they do merit further scrutiny.

Going forward, we will continue the fight to put women’s equality at the heart of economic decisions made by government. Armed with a vast amount of evidence and research prepared for the case, increased public support and new opportunities to influence the government and others, we will:

* Work with the EHRC on their investigation into the fairness of the spending review;
* Continue pressing government to tackle the inadequacy exposed by our case and other departments
* Work with partners to raise awareness and produce analysis of the effect of gender-blind cuts to public spending
* Develop and promote alternatives to the current economic approach

The Fawcett Society can be found here

Source: Fawcett Society

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