.Pat’s Petition launched a petition on 1st November 2011 calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) . We, along with many supporters, also pressed for a debate in Parliament

Pat's petition sml
Liam Byrne said –
This afternoon, I pay tribute to Pat Onions and her fellow campaigners, to the authors of the WOW petition and to the thousands of people up and down the country who have supported their campaign and will follow this debate closely

In a debate in the House of Lords Jan 17th 2013 Baroness Hollis in her closing speech said –

 

The noble Lord, Lord Freud, referred to cumulative assessment. With the help of Citizens Advice and Landman Economics, we were able to work out pretty precisely-to within 10p or so-the total cumulative effect, since 2010, of the benefit cuts and tax changes. I did it for one family type-the security guard with a wife and two children. If we can do it over a weekend with wet towels and half a bottle of gin, I am quite sure that the Government can do it with the numbers of staff that they have in the Treasury. The answer is that the Government are not choosing to do it. They do not want to be shamed by us and others as to the effect of what they have done over time. There cannot be any other reason why the noble Lord, of all people, who has the utmost respect from the House for his integrity on these issues, and the Government continue to duck the consequences of their action by giving us the cumulative statistics today.

Therefore we welcome this report – Cumulative Impact Assessment: A Research Report by Landman Economics and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) for the Equality and Human Rights Commission – that shows that a CIA is both imperative and possible.

 

Press release

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will be publishing this report, by Howard Reed (Landman Economics) and Jonathan Portes (NIESR), on Thursday 31 July  on the cumulative impact of changes to taxes, benefits and spending on different groups (men and women, disabled people and non-disabled people, and other “protected groups”).

Cumulative impact assessment techniques measure the overall impact of a set of changes to government policies (such as tax or welfare reforms, or changes to other public spending) on the UK population, analysed according to one or more characteristics (e.g. income level, age, family type, ethnicity, disability, and so on). Rather than looking at individual policy decisions in isolation, cumulative impact assessment helps government and the public to assess the overall impact of government policies on the population as a whole and on specific groups. The government already undertakes cumulative impact assessments, but not for the main groups of people sharing protected characteristics. The key findings of the report are

 

·         modelling cumulative impact assessment by equality group is feasible and practicable (at least for the protected characteristics for which sample size information is available in household survey data).

 

·         However, again consistent with the original assessment, a number of important caveats apply. Some of the modelling by its very nature is experimental and we hope will be the basis of future discussion with HM Treasury and the Fair Financial Decisions Advisory Group. Some relate to data constraints (sample size or the nature of the relevant surveys); others, particularly in the case of gender, are methodological choices.

 

·         In order to get a full picture of the impact, it is necessary to look at impacts both by income and by equality group, where possible in conjunction (where sample size allows). In other words, it is not particularly sensible to look just at the impact on men compared to women, as opposed to comparing low income men with low income women and so on.

 

·         Modelling the impact of tax and benefit changes is easier, both conceptually and in practice, than modelling the impact of public spending changes. So although this report presents analysis for both we acknowledge that the latter is a preliminary assessment and that there is more to be done going forward.

 

Based on the stage of development of the model to date, the report found that:

 

·         The impacts of tax and welfare reforms are more negative for families containing at least one disabled person, particularly a disabled child, and that these negative impacts are particularly strong for low income families. This is not surprising, given the significant reductions to working-age welfare, and the high proportion of working age welfare spent on disabled people, particularly those on low incomes.

 

·         Women lose somewhat more from the direct tax and welfare changes compared to men. This is mainly because women receive a larger proportion of benefits and tax credits relating to children, and these comprise a large proportion of the social security reforms between 2010 and 2015. It should be noted that these results are sensitive to the precise assumption made on the ‘sharing rule’ being used within households.

 

·         Households containing younger adults do better than other households; although the impact of benefit changes is relatively uniform across groups, they benefit more from changes to direct taxation (the increase in the personal allowance) than any other group.

 

·         In terms of public services (as opposed to tax and welfare), Black and Asian households lose out somewhat more than other groups. This is largely due to greater use of further and higher education, and (for Black households) social housing.

 

Jonathan Portes

Director

National Institute of Economic and Social Research