You are invited to a meeting on Tuesday 21st May at 1pm to talk about ‘human rights budgeting’.
I hope you are able to come along as this local initiative fits with national and global scrutiny of the UK’s spending decisions and the impact they make. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has just launched a major project to understand what drives the inequalities we see daily, and what we can do to mitigate them. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the project is informed by OECD and World Bank data that proves the UK is far more unequal than many other developed countries such as Finland, France and Germany. The Third Sector can give loads of reasons on why this has happened and regularly offers specific remedies but too often is frustrated as no one appears to be listening. However a ray of hope presents itself in June when Professor Phillip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, will deliver his report to the Human Rights Council on his 2018 visit to the UK. In his initial report, Professor Alston is persuaded by the evidence and will recommend specific government actions to respect, promote and fulfil social and economic rights.
This drive for solutions offers fresh impetus to the Third Sector on using human rights strategically in decisions on Glasgow’s economy and the impact of big development budgets. Scrutinising how the public pound is currently spent is key to assessing if its impact, directly and indirectly, undermines human rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to a home, to food and to clothing. Using human rights standards, there is an opportunity to collaborate strategically so that investment of the public pound results in fair return for Glasgow’s social capital.
The Third Sector has decades of experience tendering for and procuring services, in delivering contracts, marketing services, being accountable for large amounts of money and employing staff. It operates in a business environment and has a stake in making Glasgow the most productive major city economy in the UK. Very often the Third Sector is the oil which makes our economy operate and grow, providing the infrastructure so that adults can fulfill their work potential. After all it sustains out of school care where children can learn and be safe, provides on the job training for young people at college, offers jobs to a wide range of graduates, provides the care for an elderly relative so that their family can continue with paid work. With several thousand constituted organisations, tens of thousands of staff and bringing billions into the local economy, the Third Sector needs to be at the table helping to make big economic decisions.
By being at ‘the table’, there is also an opportunity to demolish the barriers to opportunity such as in the care sector by insisting that the jobs done daily get the recognition they deserve because they keep our economy going and are fundamental to future economic growth. Addressing the recognition deficit, increasing pay and providing career progression are also essential so we offer esteem to those who work with precious toddlers, family and friends.
Glasgow’s economic and social development will be the subject of next week’s human rights budgeting event and Alison Hosie from the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will introduce its human rights budgeting project. We hope the session will inspire and enable the Third Sector to use the tools to scrutinise public sector spend and offer insights on how to spend public money differently. So please come along on Tuesday 21st May 1-4.30 to the Albany Learning Centre in Glasgow to listen and take part in practical exercises designed to be useful in your work. Place are free but must be booked in advance via Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/human-rights-defenders-and-budgeting-tickets-61297534576
 See UN website at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx accessed on 13th May 2019