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Gender-Equity Group Can’t Challenge U.K. Budget, Judge Rules

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- An advocacy group failed to win a U.K. court review Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s June budget.

The review sought by The Fawcett Society, which lobbies for gender equality, was either “academic” or “unarguable” and shouldn’t be allowed to proceed, Justice Duncan Ouseley ruled today.

The Fawcett Society sought permission for a so-called judicial review of the budget. The society claimed the budget discriminates against women and should be re-considered. Judicial review is a method of challenging decisions made by government and public bodies.

During today’s hearing Fawcett’s lawyer Karon Monaghan told the court that the June budget has had a “devastating impact” on women.

“This is a budget that has gross disproportionate impact so far as gender is concerned,” Monaghan said.

Women will end up paying for 72 percent of the 8 billion pounds-worth of savings from tax and benefit changes, Monaghan said. Changes to indirect taxes and cuts to public services also hit women much harder than men, she said.

The coalition government’s June 22 budget outlined more than 90 billion pounds ($141 billion) of spending cuts to be made over the next five years, the biggest in half a century.

While the government is entitled to make the cuts, it is legally obligated to assess the effect on gender equality, Monaghan said.

After the hearing Samantha Mangwana, a lawyer for Fawcett, said the group hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

The case is: The Fawcett Society v The Chancellor of the Exchequer & ors.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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