news & events

Government Cuts 2010 Monday Women Talk

MONDAY WOMEN
4 OCTOBER 2010

PRESENTATION BY MONDAY WOMAN: CLARA PAILLARD

TOPIC: GOVERNMENT CUTS: EFFECT ON VULNERABLE PEOPLE, WOMEN, MINORITY GROUPS AND THE ARTS/CULTURE

Monday Women thank Clara for her informative talk, reproduced below and invite comments:

EFFECT ON VULNERABLE PEOPLE, WOMEN AND MINORITY GROUPS

In Clara's words:

"
1. On 22 June, the new coalition government agreed an emergency budget to be applied for this tax year. It shocked many people as unprecedented austerity measures were announced. More cuts are expected on 20 October as is expected from the Comprehensive Budget Review.


- Savings already includes welfare cuts with most of the savings (5.8 bn) made by the indexation of benefits to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) instead of the RPI (Retail Price Index)


- Savings will be made on housing benefits (1.8bn), disability benefit (1.1 bn), tax credits (3.2 bn)


- 13 bn will be collected from an increase in Vat to 20%


- But falls in corporation tax and small profit rate will give 4.1bn per annum back to businesses


- Minimum of 25% in all government departments are expected in October

2. It has been suggested that the budget cuts would affect vulnerable people, women and minority groups in particular


- A recent equality audit by the shadow Work & Pensions secretary Yvette Cooper suggested that 72% of the savings would come out of women's pocket: that's 5.8 billion out of 8 billion.


- Many women are benefiting from benefits due to be cut or frozen, such as the Health in Pregnancy grant, the Sure Start Maternity Grant and Child Benefits.


- This analysis doesn't take into account that 65% of public servants are women and will be the first to suffer from jobs cuts in government departments and local governments.

3. The government also plan to abolish the Women's National Commission, which was listed on the recent leaked document of bodies 'to be scrapped'. The WNC is the official & independent body carrying the voice of women for their view to be taken into account by government and heard by the public. It has 630 partners' organisations, representing over 8 million women.

4. Critics have already express their reservations and I quote:


- Home Secretary Theresa May
- Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbot
- Ceri Goddart, chief exec of the Fawcett society

Did the new government consider that?

5. The Fawcett Society has actually threatened to seek a judicial review of the budgets:

- The Equality Act 2007 says that public authorities must have 'due regard' to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunities between men and women.


- Usually, this means that Gender Equality Impact Assessments need to be carried out to assess if plans would worsen inequalities.


- This government hasn't done this yet.


6. The Equality & Human Rights Commission has also threatened to take action against the government as the Treasury failed to assess the impact of the budget. The Equality Act 2010 actually makes those EIA compulsory.

7. Unison, the union for local government has warned the government against 'multiple legal claims' as most of local government workers are women and facing large budget cuts. The union has lodged 40,000 equal pay in the last few years.

8. My union, PCS, consider that those cuts are not necessary. Banks have been recently bailed out and millions were found to do so. We are now made to pay the price. The Uk hold 850 bn in banking assets from the bail out, this is more than the national debt.

- The current crisis is not a crisis of spending but a crisis of income. There is a 120 bn tax gap of evaded, avoided and uncollected tax, mainly from rich people and big businesses. Compare to that, benefit fraud only represent 1bn.


- The UK debt (52%) is lower than other major economies, such as France (75%), Germany (80%), the US (85%) or Japan (more than 200%)


- Instead of making cuts, creating jobs will boost the economy and cut the deficit. Cutting jobs will damage the economy and increase the deficit.


- We could free up billions by not renewing Trident which is currently costing .5 bn per year. Its renewal is estimated at 3.3 bn per year over 30 years amounting to almost 95bn!

Conclusion

- Union have always played a role in fighting inequalities. Have you seen 'Made in Dagenham'? Those women were fighting for equal pay more than 40 years ago. This year is actually the 40th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970


- In Liverpool, women are organising within the Merseyside Public Sector Alliance and we are organising a 'Women against the cuts meeting' on 3 November, 7pm at the Unite Building (by Walker Art Gallery0 to link women Trade unionists with other women and organisations


- Present Culture petition

End: I would like to hear your view and how the cuts are affecting you or are likely to affect you. And I would like to discuss if Monday Women could contribute to the Women against the cuts, as individuals or as a group"

EFFECT ON ARTS/CULTURE

Clara has also been kind enough to direct us to some media commentary considering the effect of cuts on the Arts:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/theatreblog/2010/jun/22/arts-funding-cuts-theatre

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jun/18/arts-council-cuts-list-spreadsheet

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/theatreblog/2010/jun/22/arts-funding-cuts-watch

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2010/sep/30/arts-funding-cuts-companies

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23856467-culture-cuts-would-cause-irreparable-damage-say-arts-chiefs.do


PETITION: "SAVE OUR CULTURAL ASSETS"

Clara's union, PCS has started a petition to express concerns about the effect of cuts on cultural assets. You can read their statement and sign the petition at:

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39378.html

PUBLIC AND COMMERCIAL SERVICES (PCS) UNION

If you want to read more about PCS, follow the link below:
http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/culture_media_and_sport_occupational_association/index.cfm