William Eichler 07 March 2019

Austerity is gutting services ‘vital’ to women’s lives, report reveals

The Government’s policy of austerity has hit women the hardest with funding for women’s refuges, social care and youth and children’s services slashed, a new report has found.

The Women’s Budget Group has today launched a report, entitled Triple Whammy and authored by Heather Wakefield, the former head of local government at Unison, which looks at the impact of local government cuts on women.

Central Government funding fell by nearly 50% between 2010/11 and 2017/18 and will fall by over 56% by 2019/20. Between 2010 and 2020 £16bn will have been cut from local council’s budgets and the annual funding gap is set to grow to £7.8bn by 2025.

These cuts have ‘devastated’ local services, according to the report, and this has had a disproportionate impact on women.

Spending on adult social care fell between 2010/11 and 2016/17, despite an increase of over 14% in the number of people aged over 65 in need of it. There are currently 1.86 million people with unmet care needs—the majority of whom are women.

Spending on other services has fallen by a third and more than 75% of England’s local authorities have slashed their spending on domestic violence refuges by nearly a quarter (24%) between 2010 and 2017.

‘The network of local government services which are vital to women’s lives as workers, mothers, carers and local citizens has been torn apart by central government cuts to council funding since 2010,’ said Ms. Wakefield

‘Women’s refuges, public transport, street lighting, libraries, adult education, social care, youth services and community centres have all been affected, leaving women less safe, unable to access learning and leisure facilities and increasingly having to fill the gaps in care provision.

‘Austerity is shrinking women’s lives. To end it, the Government must recognise the obvious importance of local services and fund them at a sustainable level.’

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