An End to Austerity? What the Spending Review means for women

Date Posted: Friday 6th September 2019

Educationequality impact assessmentGender BudgetingHealthLocal GovernmentSocial CareSpending ReviewTransportVAWG

Read our full response HERE.

An end to austerity?
What the Spending Review means for women


WBG response to the 2019 Spending Review

This was the Spending Review that was supposed to end austerity. The past decade has seen cuts to spending on public services and social security that have hit women harder than men, and black and minority ethnic (BAME) women and disabled women hardest of all.


The Chancellor announced significant spending increases to some departments. However these did not go far enough to make up for ten years of cuts. Spending outside health is still 16% lower per person compared to pre-2010 levels.


  • Education saw one of the biggest boosts in funding, but the focus on schools that have ‘historically been underfunded’ will mostly benefit schools in more affluent areas.


  • The 3.7% increase in health spending is welcome but still below the 4% needed to improve services, and investment in training is only a third of what is needed to compensate for chronic staff shortages.


  • The £1.5 billion announced for adult and children social care is just enough to prevent the collapse of the social care system but does not provide a long-term plan for the future sustainability of social care.


  • Local authorities are going to receive an extra £3.5 billion in the next year, a welcome increase after a period during which funding for local government has fallen by 50%. Continued investment is needed to reverse severe cuts to local budgets.


  • Although there were strong spending commitments to police, justice and crime the Chancellor was mute on violence against women and girls, despite the endemic and widespread nature of this violence and the £66 billion it costs the UK each year. There was also no mention of legal aid, despite the severe cuts in cases since its revision.


  • Once again no equality impact assessments were published, despite the Government’s legal duty to carry them out. The positive examples of the impact of spending decisions on groups with protected characteristics, including women, are not a replacement for a comprehensive equality impact assessment of the spending review.


The end of austerity has to mean more than ending the cuts to public services, it has to mean sustained investment to restore these services to an adequate level of provision and quality and make sure social security is robust enough to work as a safety net for women.


Read our full response HERE.

Written by Sara Reis, with contributions from Mary-Ann Stephenson, Sue Himmelweit and Deborah Waters.