Desperately Seeking Poverty (Alleviation): Towards poverty sensitive budgeting in local government | Poverty

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With local governments in Scotland face significant funding cuts in the next few years, it is widely accepted that the loss of public services is inevitable. There is, however, great support for protecting frontline services that meet the needs of the most vulnerable. In this paper, it is argued that poverty-sensitive budgeting should be developed to ensure the downscaling of public services takes into account the needs of these people. The paper also presents two experiments with this approach – one more successful than the other – in two councils in Scotland. This paper is part of a series of papers which have resulted from the Whose Economy? seminar series, held in Scotland in 2010 – 2011, whose purpose was to provide a space for researchers, representative organisations, policy-makers and people with experience of poverty to come together and explore the causes of poverty and inequality in today’s Scotland.
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    Oxfam Discussion Papers Desperately seeking poverty (alleviation): towards poverty sensitive budgeting in local government  A Whose Economy   Seminar Paper John H McKendrick July 2011   www.oxfam.org.uk  Desperately seeking poverty (alleviation): towards poverty sensitive budgeting in    local government   A Whose Economy   Seminar Paper, June 2011 2 About the author Dr. John H McKendrick  is a Senior Lecturer in the Glasgow School of Business and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University. His research is primarily concerned with informing the work of practitioners and campaigners beyond the academy who seek to tackle poverty in Scotland, the UK and the EU. He is co-author of Poverty in Scotland 2011  (CPAG) and recently completed three guides for practitioners in Scotland, one on ‘Measuring Poverty’, one on ‘Tackling Child Poverty Locally’ and one on ‘Poverty Sensitive Budgeting, Decisio n Making and Practice’ (all published by the Scottish Government in 2011). He is a member of Eurochild and has supported the work of two transnational workshops in the EU (‘Child Poverty’ in 2009, and ‘Active Ageing, Poverty and Social Inclusion’ in 2010). He is a member of the Expert Panel for Oxfam Scotland’s ‘The Humankind Index’.  Email:  j.mckendrick@gcu.ac.uk    Whose Economy Seminar Papers  are a follow up to the series of seminars held in Scotland between November 2010 and March 2011. They are written to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and policy issues. These papers are ‘work in progress’ documents, and do not necessarily constitute final publications or reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views and recommendations expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. For more information, or to comment on this paper, email ktrebeck@oxfam.org.uk  Desperately seeking poverty (alleviation): towards poverty sensitive budgeting in    local government   A Whose Economy   Seminar Paper, June 2011 3 Contents Executive summary ................................................................................. 41.Introduction ........................................................................................ 52. Hard Choices, Tough Decisions  –   shaping the future of public services in North Lanarkshire .......................................................... 6 The challenge ...................................................................................... 6 A progressive response  –  participatory budgeting and acknowledging need ..................................................................................................... 6The shortcomings ................................................................................ 8 3.The benefits of poverty sensitive budgeting ................................... 84.Making poverty sensitive budgeting work ....................................... 95.Towards a conclusion ..................................................................... 106.The final word  –   Falkirk Council’s Poverty Impact Assessment Budget Tool ...................................................................................... 10Notes ....................................................................................................... 12    Desperately seeking poverty (alleviation): towards poverty sensitive budgeting in    local government   A Whose Economy   Seminar Paper, June 2011 4 Executive summary Added to significant funding cuts in the years ahead, local government in Scotland may also be faced with additional workload if the Third Sector and private sector cannot absorb public sector job losses and/or are not able to provide conditions of employment that allow existing standards of living to be maintained. The prospect of local government being tasked with achieving more with each unit of resource looms large. It is widely accepted that local government will need to reduce costs and increase income; loss of services is inevitable. Although there is much support for protecting frontline services, particularly those meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, it is less clear exactly how this is to be achieved. In this paper, it is argued that poverty sensitive budgeting should be developed as a means to ensure that public sector service restructuring (downscaling) is undertaken in a manner that takes account of the needs of people experiencing poverty. Innovations in North Lanarkshire do not quite manage to achieve this and better models are required. The prospects for poverty sensitive decision making is heightened in areas such as Falkirk, where local government has implemented a Poverty Impact Assessment Budget Tool to assist the attainment of its strategic goal to tackle poverty throughout the district.
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