74.The Committee concluded the following regarding equalities impact assessments in its report on the Autumn 2017 Budget:
The Treasury should use ONS and HMRC data to produce and publish robust equalities impact assessments of future Budgets, including the individual tax and welfare measures contained within them. A deficiency of data in respect of some protected characteristics is not a reason for failing to produce an analysis in respect of others for which data is available. Nor should the risk of misinterpretation or methodological complexity preclude the publication of an Equalities Impact Assessment. Details on methodology and guidance on interpretation can be set out alongside the analysis, just as they are with the existing distributional analysis.
75.There have been piecemeal improvements in the coverage of equalities impact assessments in the 2018 Budget. At the Autumn 2017 Budget, qualitative assessments of changes in tobacco products duty rates and a vehicle excise duty supplementary charge for diesel cars were included in the tax information and impact notes (TIINs) within HMRC’s Overview of Tax Legislation and Rates. At the 2018 Budget, the TIINs include a quantitative assessment of the increases in the personal allowance and higher rate thresholds (“17.8 million (58 per cent) [of beneficiaries] are male and 12.8 million (42 per cent) are female”), although the extent to which males and females benefit respectively is not enumerated.
76.The Committee asked Diane Elson, who has worked with the Women’s Budget Group, what a more detailed of how Budget measures affect men and women differently would entail:
This is something that has been adopted by a number of Governments around the world, although they do it differently according to the particular circumstances of the countries and the gender equality questions that they want to address. In general, it entails looking at the gender impact of spending and taxation—both individual measures and the cumulative impact—in considering whether the Budget will decrease, leave the same or increase different dimensions of gender inequality, such as the wage gap, the incomes gap, the employment gap, the pensions gap and the unpaid care-giving gap.
What this doesn’t mean is taking table 2.1 in the Red Book, which lists all the spending measures and tax measures, and then trying to divide up the spend or the tax for all these measures into what goes to women and what goes to men. That is a sensible thing to do only for certain items, like income tax, but it would not be the approach that many would adopt. […] We are disappointed that the Treasury has still not produced a comprehensive equalities impact analysis of the Budget, although it has produced an annexe that looks at the impact on households by decile.
77.Professor Elson outlined some of the likely gender-specific impacts of Budget measures, and some of the areas in which the Treasury and HMRC analysis had been deficient:
Women will particularly benefit […] from increased funding for the national health service, because women, more than men, use the health service. […] Men will definitely benefit more than women from the income tax giveaway. I was able to do some calculations using data from the House of Commons Library […], which show that 63 per cent of the gains from the change to the raising of the threshold in income tax go to men, and 37 per cent to women, in the period 2017–18 to 2021–22. […] [The Treasury and HMRC] done a little bit of analysis [of that], but they didn’t publicise that and it didn’t make them rethink the measure.
What the Treasury said [about alcohol duties] was, “Due to differences in alcohol consumption, any changes to alcohol duties will have an equalities impact that reflects consumption trends across the adult population.” I think that is a bit of a B-minus answer.
78.There is some improvement in the provision of equalities and gender impact assessments in this Budget, but they fall well short of the “robust [ … ] assessments of future Budgets, including the individual tax and welfare measures contained within them” that the Committee recommended at the last Budget. At the next Budget, there should be quantitative analysis of the equalities impact of individual tax and welfare measures in all cases where data are available.
82 HMRC, , 22 November 2017
83 HMRC, , 29 October 2018
Published: 12 February 2019