In recent years, as many countries have adopted new legislation to implement the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), interest has been growing on the role of public budget in supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The terms inclusive budgeting, disability budgeting, disability responsive budgeting, are somehow used interchangeably. While they offer an entry point for stakeholders to engage with budget process and public financial management (PFM), they might not provide the comprehensive guidance required to ensure that maximum available resources are used to implement the CRPD.
Inclusive budgeting is probably the broadest concept. It implies that government revenue generation and expenditures will contribute to inclusive development, involving and benefitting all people in their diversity. It should include persons with disabilities among others and pays attention to the impact of revenue generation and expenditures on gender equality and the most marginalized groups. It should ensure also that all stakeholders are meaningfully consulted in budget processes. Important as an overarching concept, such approach alone might miss the specific requirements of different groups, particularly the most marginalized among persons with disabilities.
Disability budgeting and disability responsive budgeting concepts are an echo of gender-responsive and child responsive budgeting, with a focus on persons with disabilities. Such concepts provide a focus on disability and might be more inclusive of all groups but may not be specific enough. Indeed governments, in good faith might consider as disability responsive, public expenditures:
- on programs that are important but which do not actually promote inclusion of persons with disabilities per se, such as public health programs (immunization, mine risk awareness…)
- on programs that are in contradiction with the CRPD standards, such as spending on segregated education or psychiatric hospitals practicing forced treatment and coercion.
- focused on disability specific programs and fail to promote a whole of government approach.
CRPD compliant budgeting builds on the comprehensive standards of the CRPD to assess and plan public resource allocation. This covers all human rights of all persons with disabilities. While the CRPD Committee has not yet developed specific guidance on the subject, few basic elements can be elaborated based on the CRPD Standards and the CRPD committee jurisprudence as well as the experience of DPOs from Philippines, India and the Pacific on budget analysis and advocacy:
- The planning process and execution of public budgets strictly comply with provisions of the CRPD, in close consultation with representative organizations of persons with disabilities, including children, and with specific attention to the most marginalized groups.
- The overall public finance management system contributes efficiently and effectively to CRPD implementation, using all available instruments (transfers, public procurement, grants, contracts, tax expenditures, revenue generation, etc.).
- All central and local public spending, as well as development assistance funds, foster accessibility and non-discrimination across sectors and contribute to the inclusion of persons with disabilities
- All policies, guidelines or administrative regulations allowing for and related to public expenditures, are consistent with the CRPD, including public procurement regulations.
- Public resources, domestic and international, do not finance programs and services that are in contradiction with the CRPD standards:
- Reforms of such programs towards compliance are implemented or resources are reallocated from CRPD non-compliant to CRPD compliant policies, services, and programs. This may be realized incrementally but a deadline should be set. This applies also to services that are publicly funded and/or regulated but delivered by private entities.
- Public resources are used to:
- Sustain and ensure universal access to effective national policies, programs, and services compliant with the CRPD.
- Scale up effective local programs, services, and initiatives compliant with the CRPD.
- Allow for the development of new policies addressing gaps in required services for inclusion.
- Specific attention should be paid so that public spending supports gender equality and the inclusion of most marginalized groups among persons with disabilities.
- Maximum available resources, including domestic and international, are mobilized across sectors and government levels. Earmarking may be considered to ensure that all ministries and public agencies allocate resources to ensure non-discrimination and to progressively make their services accessible and inclusive to all persons with disabilities. Such earmarking should be supported by implementation plans and technical assistance.
- Public resources follow responsibilities devolved from central to local governments within the frame of fiscal decentralization to ensure that local authorities have the means to deliver the services and support which they are mandated.
- Revenue generation, including taxation, takes into consideration the extra costs faced by Persons with disabilities.
- The principle of non-retrogression is fully applied and prevents disproportionate and arbitrary cuts in resources allocated for the inclusion of Persons with disabilities. Austerity measures that have weakened standards of support across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis are an illustration of such negative policies.
- Budgeting processes and reports are transparent, with agreed upon indicators for monitoring the progress of CPRD compliant budgeting, including not only budgetary allocation but actual expenditures as well.
- Persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations, should be closely consulted in planning and execution of budget at the national and local levels (Article 4.3).
The Centre for Inclusive Policy is currently working with the Pacific Disability Forum (Fiji), Equals-Centre for Promotion of Social Justice (India) and the Europe foundation (Georgia) on initiatives for CRPD compliant budget advocacy.
Daniel Mont is co-founder of the Center for Inclusive Policy. He has extensive experience in the area of disability and inclusive development in research, operations, and capacity building, having worked for many years with the World Bank but also with a wide range of other international development agencies, governments, academics, and civil society organizations.