Human Rights Budgeting

The public budget is the principal economic policy document of any government. Applying a human rights framework to the budget would add value to efforts to realise social justice in Scotland. Read a background briefing paper on human rights budgeting and budget analysis.

From January to May 2018, the Commission ran a project to help Scotland's public authorities put human rights at the heart of their budget planning.

Led by the Commission and the Health and Social Care Alliance for Scotland (the ALLIANCE), the project was funded by the European Union and managed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights.  The main aim of the project has been to give budget holders the tools they need to ensure that their budget decisions have a positive impact on people's rights. It has also helped start a programme of ongoing work to develop tools to help scrutinise public spending decisions through a human rights lens.

The project involved three key activities:

1. Human Rights Budgeting Masterclass

The Masterclass was delivered by the Center for Economic and Social Rights in partnership with the ALLIANCE. It aimed to increase knowledge and confidence about budget analysis from a human rights perspective. Forty four participants took part including senior representatives from Scottish Government, Parliament and public authorities, people with lived experience of poverty and other rights issues, and a wide range of civil society organisations.

2. Developing Indicators

This activity aimed to provide the tools needed to support future scrutiny of the national budget through a human rights lens including the budget process, taxation and money raising, resource allocation decisions and how money is spent in reality. A draft set of indicators have been produced which will now be further developed through engagement with a wider group of stakeholders.

3. Economic and Social Rights

Linking in with the Commission's wider programme of work on economic and social rights, the project looked in detail at how budgets are allocated and spent in relation to the Right to Food, the Right to Health, the Right to Housing, and the Right to Social Security.

Next Steps 

The project has identified a need for, and been a catalyst for, more work. The Commission will take forward a range of activities including:

  • Joining the Equality Budget Advisory Group as a permanent member
  • Leading a human rights budget analysis workshop at the ALLIANCE Annual Conference
  • Supporting the development by the ALLIANCE of a short video on human rights budgeting
  • Developing a plan to engage wider stakeholders in human rights budgeting indicators
  • Developing the project steering group into an ongoing Human Rights Budgeting Steering Group

More Information

Project Steering Group Members

Masterclass Experts, Speakers and Panellists

Masterclass Presentation Slides

Masterclass Group Exercises

Scottish Parliament Budget Explorer Tool

Further Reading and Useful Links

To find out more or discuss any aspect of this work, contact our Research Officer, Dr Alison Hosie.  


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