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Why women's voices need to be part of the budget process

Each year the budgetary process starts in a mooted fashion with the process of pre-budget scrutiny. Just before the Scottish Parliament went into recess the newly formed Finance and Public Administration Committee launched its consultation seeking your views on Scotland’s public finances in 2022-23, how they have been affected by COVID-19 and how the next Scottish Budget should address the need for a fair and equal recovery.

When the group of eight men and two women, who make up the Finance Committee, return to Parliament it’s important that they hear a diversity of experience in responses to this consultation. To hear the different economic experiences of people across our society. Often there is an assumption that budgets are gender neutral and effect everyone similarly, but we just need to look at the spotlight that COVID-19 shone on inequalities to know that is not true.

The pandemic has affected us all but it’s not affected us equally. Women, those belonging to minority ethnic communities and disabled people are economically the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis and the risk of deepening existing inequalities is high. Women have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis, making up the majority of health and care workers and the majority of workers at high risk of exposure to Covid-19. Other sectors which have a predominantly female workforce, such as hospitality, have been harder hit by the impact of lockdown and ongoing restrictions of social distancing, with risk of unemployment or reducing working hours remaining high.

This is on top of the fact that women are more likely to live in poverty at any stage of their life than men, Scotland has a 13.3% Gender Pay Gap and 85% of those who are deemed ‘inactive’ in the labour market due to caring responsibilities are women (Statistics take from Scottish Government 2020 Scotland’s Gender Equality Index).

The next budget has a lot of work to do to turn the tide on inequalities so it’s not surprising that at the Scottish Women’s Budget Group we want to make sure women’s voices and concerns are part of that process. National budget’s affect our lives everyday, having the potential to make things easier or more difficult depending on the spending decisions. A budget process that is open, transparent and gives space for participation makes way for a fairer process.

Join us in sharing your views with the Committee

Individuals can response to the Committee consultation the consultation is open until 13 August.

Join us for a policy dialogue event to inform the SWBG response alongside members of SWBG to the consultation on Monday 9 August.

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