Treasury Guidance on Sustainable Development
1. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury identified
the overarching aims of SR2002 in a Parliamentary answer on 25
June 2001 (Official Report, Cols 38-39W). Consideration
of the wider social, economic and environmental implications of
their proposals will help departments to deliver those aims and
will contribute to the wider evidence base. This note provides
advice on how and when departments might wish to consider sustainable
development and should be read in conjunction with the general
"SR2002 Guidance" (and is subordinate to it in any case
2. It applies to each department with its
own PSA. In many cases, sustainable development issues are already
being considered by policymakers in these departments and are
being reflected in proposals. Departments may not, therefore,
need to provide all of the material suggested below, or may only
need to provide a summary (if in doubt, contact your spending
team). But where a department does not provide a particular piece
of material it should be ready to explain this decision.
UK SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGY (UK SDS)
3. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy
will provide the basis for departments' consideration of SD during
SR2002. Published in 1999, this Strategy sets out the Government's
15 headline indicators,
which highlight priority issues for sustainable development in
the UK. The list of indicators is set out in Annex A. The Government's
policy is "for all the headline indicators to move in the
right direction over time . . . Where a trend is unacceptable
the Government will adjust policies accordingly."
4. The 15 headline indicators provide a
starting point for departments' consideration of sustainable development
but do not represent an exhaustive list. Departments will therefore
also want to consider other social, environmental and economic
impacts. An indicative list of additional impacts that departments
may wish to consider is contained in Annex B. Overall the Government
has identified 147 indicators, which are contained in the 1999
document "Quality of Life Counts".
When preparing proposals, departments may find this a useful source
of additional information on possible impacts, but will not, of
course, be expected to address them all.
5. Each department participating in SR2002
should produce a separate, freestanding Sustainable Development
Report (SDR). We would expect this Report to come from the
Secretary of State to the Chief Secretary.
6. This SDR will be the main sustainable
development product of SR2002, giving departments an opportunity
to explain in more detail the sustainable development implications
of their proposals and expanding on information provided elsewhere
in the SR2002 proposal. The SDR should set out any anticipated
significant social, economic and environmental implications for
departments' five or so top priorities.
7. Where possible this Report should include
quantitative data, though qualitative assessments may be more
appropriate in some cases. Departments should identify both positive
and negative impacts and in particular examine any trade-offs.
Where trade-offs are identified the Report should explain how
spillovers will be minimised, and explain any alternatives that
were considered and why they were rejected. The analysis should
also highlight any significant distributional effectse.g.
rural and urban; generational; between regions. The Report should
also explain any significant SD implications for non-priority
8. Through the SDR most departments should
be able to demonstrate that they have considered the significant
social, economic and environmental impacts of their bids. (Where
this is not appropriate for a department as a whole or for particular
elements of the proposal this should be noted). Departments should
be prepared for their SDR to be discussed at Ministerial bilaterals.
9. Departments' proposals should summarise
how sustainable development informed their prioritisation, giving
departments an opportunity to demonstrate the influence of SD
issues. Departments are encouraged to highlight any instances
where priorities changed as a result of an analysis of SD impacts.
10. Where appropriate, departments may wish
to include information on the SD implications in the section on
resources by objective - for example where a sustainable
development issue is a relevant part of the background to any
increases or savings proposed.
11. Departments should also consider sustainable
development issues when preparing their draft PSA agreements and
12. It is expected that most targets
will be rolled forward from SR2000. The Chief Secretary is also
looking for a reduction in the overall number of targets, so that
departments are even more focused on what really matters. Departments
are not expected to add new "sustainable development"
targets to their PSA.
13. Nevertheless, when doing any redrafting
of PSAs departments should consider how the targets relate to
sustainable development. The production of the SDR should help
to identify the SD implications of particular targets. Where there
are significant negative implications departments should be able
to offer a justification (supported by analysis) for continuing
to pursue the target, explaining how the overall benefits outweigh
14. As the main Guidance notes, departments
should only drop existing targets under exceptional circumstances.
One such circumstance would be where a target creates damaging
distortions. Departments should make clear in the Annex to their
draft PSAs if a live target is being dropped because of damaging
impacts on sustainable development and provide an account of the
nature and extent of this impact.
15. When preparing the delivery section
of their PSA departments are also encouraged to cross-refer, if
appropriate, to sustainable development and particularly to the
UK Sustainable Development Strategy. Where PSA targets contribute
directly to a UK SDS headline indicator this should be highlighted.
For example, the last MAFF PSA noted that "Targets 2 and
5 contribute to the Government's rural and countryside objectives".
Departments may consider whether a similar link should be made
to sustainable development.
16. The main Guidance sets out the conditions
in which shared targets are appropriate. An analysis of
sustainable development impacts is one tool that departments may
wish to use when considering whether a particular outcome warrants
a shared target. Where this is the case, departments are encouraged
to highlight the fact.
17. Where it is relevant to them, departments
may also wish to consider whether sustainable development should
appear in their service delivery agreement. The SDA can
include further information on the impacts of particular PSA targets
and details on precisely how those targets will be met. Departments
may wish to set out in the SDA any significant impacts for sustainable
development of the delivery mechanisms they envisage and the impacts
of any alternative mechanisms they have been considered. Departments
should consult their Treasury Spending Team on whether such discussion
would be appropriate in their SDA.
18. Sustainable development is principally
an issue for departmental teams preparing SR2002 bids and for
Treasury Spending Teams. It is not intended as a specialist "add-on",
but should be seen as a natural extension of the desire to achieve
evidence-based policy and joined up government.
19. However, further information and advice
can be sought from the Treasury. The first port of call should
be the relevant Treasury Spending Team dealing with your department.
Alternatively, contact HMT's environment branch, who have an overall
interest in sustainable development in SR2002.
20. Further information, and additional
contact points, will be made available by the Treasury.
ANNEX ATHE 15 HEADLINE INDICATORS
(AND CURRENT TRENDS)
Economic output (GDP) significant positive change
Investment (% of GDP) significant negative change
Employmentno significant change
Poverty and social exclusionno significant change
Education (qualifications at 19) significant positive
Health (exp. years of healthy life) no significant
Housing (unfit / non-decent homes) no significant
violent crimesignificant negative change
vehicle, burglarysignificant positive change
Climate change (greenhouse gases) significant positive
Air quality (days of air pollution) significant positive
Road trafficno significant change
River water qualitysignificant positive change
Wildlife (farmland birds) significant negative change
Land use (% of new homes on brownfield sites) no
Waste (more waste reduction, reuse, recycling
and recovery) significant negative change
ANNEX BINDICATIVE LIST OF OTHER
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS
Waste and materials recycling
Emissions of pollutants to air and water
UK competitiveness (eg labour productivity; imports/exports
Proportion of lone parents, long-term ill and the
disabled that are economically active
Death rates from cancer, circulatory disease, accidents
Significant social, economic and environmental effects
(positive and negative)
eg rural and urban; between regions; generational
3 The 15 headline indicators are updated regularly
and can be found at the following web address: www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/indicators/headline Back
The full list can be found at: www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/indicators/national/index