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Challenge to the government’s June 2010 Emergency Budget

01 February 2011

Samantha Mangwana acted for the Fawcett Society in a highly-publicised challenge to the government’s June 2010 Emergency Budget, on the basis that it was unlawful because the government had failed to conduct any “gender equality impact assessment” prior to determining any spending cuts. The challenge was brought in light of the adverse disproportionate impact of the planned government cuts to women. Independent figures published showed that 72% of the proposed cuts would be borne by women as opposed to only 28% by men.  
As a result of the challenge, the government accepted and the High Court confirmed that the equality duties did apply to all decision-making of public authorities, including even the Budget itself. This was an important step for all campaign organisations looking to use the duties as a means of holding the government to account on equality, even in the face of difficult economic decisions. The government has since changed its approach to macro-economic decision-making, publishing alongside its Comprehensive Spending Review an “equalities overview” statement, for the first time, as well as an impact assessment for the July 2011 Budget.