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Using Human Rights and Equality Legislation to Challenge Public Spending Cuts

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The following resource contains useful reports and booklets produced by different organisations showing how various pieces of UK legislation can be used to challenge the decisions of public bodies. These may be useful for those wishing to make a legal challenge against public spending cuts.

If you are considering a legal challenge against public spending cuts you may also find this list of past successful and unsuccessful legal challenges useful.


The two main sources of legal challenge to the public spending cuts have been:

In addition, some groups have analysed the impact of the spending cuts using international human rights standards, although these have not formed the basis of any legal challenge the main international standards that have been used have been:


Toolkits and guides to using UK legislation to challenge public spending cuts


Some of these guides provide general guidance on the obligations of public bodies under the human rights or equality acts and are not limited to challenging the public spending cuts. Others focus on how to challenge public spending cuts specifically.


Toolkits and guides providing general guidance to the obligations of public bodies under the public sector equality duty (section 149, Equality Act 2010)


Organisation(s) Report Name and Author(s) Description
Trade Union Congress (TUC) 'TUC Equality Duty Toolkit' (2011). Toolkit aimed to explain the public sector equality duty and how it can be used. It provides guidance on the new public sector equality duty, including what ‘due regard’ means in practice and frequently asked questions.
Women's Resource Centre and NAVCA 'Keeping it Legal: A Guide for Third Sector Organisations on Public Law and Equality Rights' by Pam Grant, Terry Perkins, Ange Jones, Diane Astin and Louise Whitfield (2009). Guide designed to give voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations a broad overview of how to use public law in combination with the current range of equality duties. The guide aims to explain the public law principles that public bodies must follow when making decisions; explore how groups may use public law to challenge unfair decision making; explore successful challenges such as Southall Black Sisters and Chavda and summarises the law relating to the ‘equality duties’ that most public bodies must now follow.



Toolkits and guides providing general guidance to the obligations of public bodies under the Human Rights Act 1998


Organisation(s) Report Name and Author(s) Description
Ministry of Justice 'A Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998 (Third Edition)' (2006) A guide explaining what the Human Rights Act 1998 is, what rights are protected by it and how to use the Act and challenge a decision when you feel that your rights are being breached.
British Institute of Human Rights 'Your Human Rights' Guides. A series of guides and reports as to how to use human rights in order to challenge Government decisions and policy. This includes guides on how to use human rights for older people, voluntary and community groups, those with mental health issues, disabled people, refugees and asylum seekers and carers as well as guides for how to raise a human rights issue.



Toolkits and guides to using the public sector equality duty within section 149 Equality Act 2010 to challenge public spending cuts


Organisation(s) Report Name and Author(s) Description
Equality and Diversity Forum 'How to Use the Equality Act 2010: A Guide for Voluntary and Community Organisations' A guide for using the Equality Act 2010 in order to make challenges to new Government plans and decisions.
False Economy Blog Article: 'Three Ways to Challenge the Cuts in Court.' Shows three ways in which public spending cuts can be challenged under judicial review.
Centre for Welfare Reform 'Using the Law to Fight Cuts to Disabled People's Services: A Practical Guide for Campaigners - Disabled People, Families, Carers and Local Groups'(2012) A paper aimed to help campaigners, including disabled people and those supporting and representing them, understand how the law can be used to fight cuts to services for disabled people.



Toolkits and guides to using the Human Rights Act 1998 to challenge public spending cuts


Organisation(s) Report Name and Author(s) Description
British Institute of Human Rights 'The Human Rights Act in the Austerity Age.' Shows how the Human Rights Act can be used to hold decision-makers to account for their decisions and challenge decisions being made.