I understand the issues people in Kingswood are facing: low life expectancy compared to the rest of England, poverty, increased numbers of people earning below the acceptable living wage, concerns with immigration and the role of the EU. These are issue we can address by working together.
Impact of public spending cuts on women in Bristol
From a talk delivered at "Creating a Manifesto for Bristol South" event held by Green Party Candidate for Bristol South Tony Dyer on January 31, 2015.
The impact of austerity on women's equality has been a growing concern since 2010. Independent research bodies, academics, and practitioners have highlighted in numerous reports how reducing public spending has a disproportionate effect on women. The Fawcett Society presents regular reports on the impact of public spending cuts on women that highlight the problems in details.
As a practitioner who works with women regularly, I see how many women are becoming poorer and financially dependent.
If we look at women in Bristol. the context in which we live is already putting us at a disadvantage when it comes to the economy, health and wellbeing, decision making, and safety.
Women's economic security:
- Over 40% of women living in Bristol South and Bristol East constituencies earn under the living wage (£280) per week;
- 25 % of children in Bristol are living in poverty; 29% in Bristol South and 60% in Lawrence Hill.
- 75% of these children live in lone parent families 92% of lone parents are women. The changes which require lone parents to move from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance when their youngest child is 5 is likely to lead to an 8.5% drop in real income by 2015;
- The occupational areas targeted for development by the West of England LEP are male dominated industries - aerospace, high tech manufacturing, low carbon, creative digital and professional and managerial. The policies and budgets behind these developments rarely take into account ways to get more women in board.
Women's Decision Making
- Men take most decisions in the city, as they make up the majority of boards in both public and private organisations (with less than 30% women on boards in both sectors).
Women's Health and Wellbeing
- Talking about mental health service provision after the talk
- Women live longer in poorer health and often with a disability
- Women under 65 have more unrecognised heart attacks, are referred for procedures less often and are more likely to die after heart attack than men.
- More girls aged 11-15 are regular smokers than boys
- 0% girls in Bristol secondary schools get the government recommended amount of exercise (this one blows my mind every time I come across it)
- Women living in the most deprived areas of Bristol have cervical cancer rates more than three times as high as those in the least deprived areas.
- Prevalence of domestic violence (nationally) is greater in young women –under 24 years- and those who have a long term illness or disability
- 43,340 women in Bristol are likely to have been raped or sexually abused at some point in their lifetime
- The Avon & Somerset Constabulary recorded crime rate for rape is 22.9 per 100,000. This number is in line with the average across England and Wales.
- Only 15% of victims said they had reported offences to the police.
- 14,273 women and girls aged 16-59 in Bristol are estimated to have been a victim of domestic abuse in 2013. An additional 2,905 older women could have been victims of domestic violence and abuse in the last year.
- 68,800 women in Bristol are likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
- If sexual assault and stalking are included, then 99,000 women in Bristol (45% of the female population) have experienced at least one incident of inter-personal abuse in their lifetimes.
- It's not looking very bright, is it? Women are already disadvantaged by these frameworks of inequality. As a result, public spending cuts are having a significant impact on women's economic security , health and wellbeing, and safety.
I am not going to bombard you with further numbers on the statistical figures behind public spending cuts on women. The Fawcett Society Report on Cutting Women Out in Bristol already does that very well. I will only bring you the stories of three women I've met in 2014, whose life stories will highlight the impact more than any number ever will.
Natalie is a woman in her late 40s who has had a criminal conviction in the past. Because of her conviction, she is unable to find work. New employment policies require Natalie to seek work regularly and the hundreds of rejections coming every month have a significant impact on Natalie's mental health. She is becoming less confident and more submissive. Natalie used to live in a two bedroom flat in Bristol, where she could often have her two children visit, as well as care for her elderly and ill mother. Cuts to public funds had a significant impact on her housing benefit, pushing her into a more deprived area, in a small one bedroom flat. She can no longer provide the care for her mother that she once did. Most recently, Natalie was signed on to the work programme and is forced into unpaid work regularly. Natalie is often depressed, and has sought the support of a counsellor. Mental health service provision was significantly changed as a result of public spending cuts and Natalie has been waiting for an assessment for over 6 months.
Ana is a Polish national and a single mother who lives with her two daughters aged 6 and 4. Because her youngest one is 4, in order to be entitled to benefits she needs to prepare for and take up employment. Funding cuts to childcare provision means that she is unable to attend any training to get a qualification. When she came to an appointment at JobcentrePlus with her youngest daughter, she was turned away because the facility was not insured to have children on premises. Training provided by colleges and other organisations do not take into account Ana's responsibility to do the school run.
Emily is a young single mother of 2, and at 25 is considering going back into education. The support available for adults (but also young people) who want to return to education have had a significant cut, and are almost inexistent for people over 24. She cannot get adequate childcare and cannot afford to pay for education. The JobcentrePlus is pushing for Emily to go find a job.
Hundreds of women suffer the brunt of public spending cuts each day, and with them their children, families and communities. Their lives are more than statistics and their experiences will shape our future. Austerity is not the answer. Let me know if you have been affected by public spending cuts.
Find out which ward in Bristol you live in
General Election 8 June 2017
Meet Green Party Bristol Candidates for the General Election 2017
Cezara Nanu For Kingswood
Cezara is passionate about the NHS and local heath services
Darren Hall for Bristol West
Darren grew up in Berkeley, Gloucestershire and now lives and works in Bristol.