The equality watchdog has said it will examine the impact of the government’s spending review on disabled people, women and minority ethnic communities.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s announcement follows widespread concerns that the spending review had disproportionately hit disabled people and women, and criticisms of the government’s failure to produce a full equality impact assessment of its expenditure plans.
The Fawcett Society has argued that women will be particularly badly hit by reductions in public sector employment and cuts to services and benefits, as they are more likely than men to be employed by the state and to use services, and more likely to face bigger responsibilities in the home as a result of cuts.
Disabled people will also be hit by expected cuts to adult social care funding from 2011-15 and reductions in benefits such as disability living allowance and employment and support allowance.
The Treasury, like other public bodies, is under a legal duty to have due regard to equality in the decisions it takes and consider any disproportionate impact on “protected groups”, defined by race, gender or disability.
The EHRC said its decision should not be taken as an implication that the Treasury has failed in its duty. It will produce its final report next summer.
Special report on the comprehensive spending review