New project launched to put human rights at heart of public sector budgets

A pioneering new initiative to help Scotland’s public authorities put human rights at the heart of their budget planning is being launched today.


The project, led by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), with funding from the European Union and support from the New York Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), will give budget holders the tools they need to ensure their budget decisions have a positive impact on people’s rights. It will also help provide a tool for scrutiny of public spending decisions that impact directly on people’s lives.


This is the first time a project of this nature has been delivered in Scotland. It supports the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s recent call for the Scottish Government to develop a national framework for human rights based budgeting. Christina McKelvie MSP, Convenor of the Committee, will launch the project at an exclusive Masterclass with a range of international experts today.


An EU grant will support the delivery of the Masterclass; building capacity among various stakeholders to carry out a human rights based analysis of the Scottish Government’s 2018/19 Budget; and the development of a set of indicators and benchmarks which can be used to measure Scotland’s performance in meeting its human rights obligations.


Judith Robertson, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said “We welcome the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee call for the Scottish Government to implement a national framework for human rights based budgeting. This is something we have long advocated for and we are delighted that we have been awarded funding from the European Union’s NHRI.EU fund to help make this a reality."


“There is significant political will in Scotland to progress people’s human rights and we have witnessed some positive engagement from public authorities to reinforce this. We look forward to working on this project, with the ALLIANCE and CESR, to develop practical ways to help public authorities understand how best to protect the rights of every person in Scotland through their budget setting.”


Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the ALLIANCE, said: “There is still some way to go before people can fully enjoy rights like the right to health and equal participation in decision-making. We are particularly focused on how human rights apply to health and social care and the many people, including people who are disabled, living with long term conditions and unpaid carers, for whom human rights remain unrealised. Human rights budgeting would help realise these rights and we believe this initiative will help to further stimulate discussion and add to the growing body of work in this area. The ALLIANCE are therefore delighted to be working in partnership with the Commission and CESR as part of our contribution to the continuing conversation on human rights in Scotland.”