16. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the additional expenditure that is being undertaken the end of 2017 and in 2018 to ensure that all measures in budget 2018 are fully equality and gender proofed; the timeframe and targets needed to ensure that budget 2019 is also fully gender and equality proofed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47226/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The approach that is being taken to develop a process of budget and policy proofing, as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights in line with the Programme for Partnership Government commitment, has been set out in a policy paper published by my Department on Budget day. This paper, entitled “Equality Budgeting – Proposed Next Steps in Ireland”, looks at the international experience and best practice in this area, and outlines the pilot approach that will be adopted for the current budgetary cycle.

In line with the international best practice in this area, the intention is to ensure that an equality perspective is integrated throughout the budgetary process. Consequently, expenditure in relation to the process of budget and policy proofing forms part of the overall cost of the budgetary process rather than being assigned a separate allocation.

The pilot cycle of equality budgeting will focus on a number of diverse expenditure programmes already in existence across a range of Departments. The relevant Departments will conduct an assessment of the chosen policy areas with a view to defining high level gender equality objectives and performance indicators for the policies in question.  Responsibility for proofing expenditure programmes is a matter for the individual spending Departments in the first instance.

The objectives and indicators that have been selected will be published by my Department in the Revised Estimates Volume in December this year. Progress towards achieving these targets will be reported on in the Public Service Performance Report to be published in 2018.

The pilot programme of equality budgeting will be reviewed following the 2018 budgetary cycle. Learnings from the pilot approach will be used to expand the initiative to other expenditure programmes and equality dimensions for the 2019 budgetary cycle.