Local prospects for poverty sensitive budgeting in Scotland: the independent reflections of an Action Learning Set

P Allan, J Arnott, A Feeney, M Kolhatkar, C MacLean, C Mitchell, P Rennie, R Spillane, JH McKendrick

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

The financial downturn has heightened interest in public sector budgeting and local service provision. There seems to be broad agreement that public sector spending should be reduced down to a new lower and ‘sustainable’ level to align expenditure with income. There is some disagreement over how quickly, how much and what specifically is to be cut. The first disagreement over the speed with which budgets are to be reduced is interesting in the sense that it actually masks common agreement, i.e. that there is a need to reduce budgets (the disagreement ‘only’ being over how quickly these budgets should be cut). The second disagreement over the depth of the cuts has not proven to be as divisive as might be expected, with more discord expressed over speed and focus. The final disagreement - over what exactly is to be cut – has tended to revolve around loss of employment. Where voluntary early retirement and other schemes to reduce the number of employees (e.g. not replacing vacant posts) do not achieve the desired savings, then there is greater potential for conflict as workers and the labour movement campaign to avoid enforced redundancy. There is less focus on from where these jobs are to be lost within organisations (transport, social work, education leisure, etc.). The only preference that seems to be expressed is that jobs should be ‘administrative’ or ‘managerial’ and not customer-facing.
Bubbling up from beneath the surface and emerging from the margins of debate is a growing concern to recognise, evidence, and take cognisance of, the impact of reduced public sector budgets on the lives of the most vulnerable. Poverty sensitive budgeting is a fledging idea in these challenging times that seeks tools and processes to complement financial considerations in the decision making process. The mindset of poverty sensitive budgeting is that the cuts must also be designed in a way that minimises the negative impact on the quality of life of those who are least able to absorb them. It is the prospect of developing poverty sensitive budgeting that brought together the authors to work together as an Action Learning Set for six months from November 2010 to March 2011.
Included in this document are our main messages, a summary of the general conclusions drawn by the group under four sub-headings, brief summaries of the wider work of group members, and directions to resources that group members have found to be useful in developing their ideas.
We hope that this report serves to stimulate interest, and to inform best practice, among those concerned to promote poverty sensitive budgeting in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Commissioning bodyCommunity Regeneration and Tackling Poverty Learning Network
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • poverty
  • local government

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