Charity leaders call for fairness panel to scrutinise government spending decisions

Sector figures warn Chancellor George Osborne of the impact of cuts on the most vulnerable

George Osborne
George Osborne

More than 160 charity leaders have written to George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for greater independent scrutiny of government spending decisions.

The letter, signed by members of the chief executives body Acevo, calls for a fairness panel of voluntary sector leaders that would examine government spending and says future Budget decisions should be subject to independent scrutiny.

It follows issues raised by Sir Stephen Bubb, the organisation’s chief executive, who earlier this month warned that cuts to voluntary sector organisations were being made amid a growing "scrutiny deficit" of weakening local accountability.

Today’s letter says: "We believe the government should subject the drawing up of all future Budgets and spending reviews to some form of independent scrutiny, designed to ensure that our most deprived communities and the most vulnerable in society are not disproportionately hit by the significant reductions in public spending that the UK is committed to."

The letter also references Bubb’s warning that a "forgotten Britain" could emerge over the next decade, in which less scrutiny and pressures on public spending combined to hit society’s most vulnerable people hardest.

"We are writing to you now to urge you to help plug that scrutiny deficit and avoid the spectre of a ‘forgotten Britain’ becoming reality," the letter says.

It also says the Equalities and Human Rights Commission found that the government did not take into account the impact of key elements in its cuts programme on women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said the government had to take tough decisions in the spending review and put public finances back on a stable footing. "But the government has made these decisions in the fairest way possible," she said. 

"The government takes equalities very seriously and at the spending review exceeded its legal duties, publishing for the first time, a report giving an overview of the impact on equalities. We are pleased that the EHRC says that the government ‘consciously and actively sought to fulfil the duties’ on equalities."

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