2020 WBG Briefings: Local government and gender

Date Posted: Wednesday 26th February 2020

March 2020

Local Government

View and download our full briefing here. 

Key points:

  • Women and girls rely disproportionately on services provided by local authorities because they still do the majority of unpaid care work in society and therefore rely on local services to help take up this work and for paid employment.
  • Women – particularly BME and disabled women – have had their lives detrimentally harmed by funding cuts to local government since 2010 which amount to 49% cuts in budget in real terms or, 60 pence of every pound.
  • Central government funding for local authorities announced in September 2019 marks a more generous settlement than those in recent years. Nonetheless, more investment is needed to reverse the damage done. However, this runs parallel to almost nationwide council tax increases. Many councils are still having to use reserves to compensate for cuts since 2010.
  • Despite growing demand and widespread unmet need, social care spending fell by 3% between 2010/11 and 2017/18. Meanwhile, cuts to services elsewhere have meant that social care now accounts for nearly 70% of local authority spend.[1]
  • There was a 32.6% reduction in spending on all other services including transport, schools, community centres, housing, libraries, parks and playgrounds between 2010/11-2017/18.
  • Cuts have also led to almost 1 million redundancies in councils across the UK and cuts to pay and conditions for the local government and school workforces since 2010.[2] Women make up 78% of council staff and 90% of support staff in schools so it is women’s jobs which have been disproportionately lost.
  • Local government is also responsible for services to support victims/survivors of domestic and sexual abuse: more than 75% of England’s local authorities cut their spending on domestic violence refuges – by nearly a quarter (24%) – between 2010 and 2017. 17% of specialist women’s refuges were forced to close between 2010 and 2014, and a third of all referrals to refuges are currently turned away.
  • Government should develop a sustainable, long term plan for funding local authorities which enables them to meet their statutory duties. Proposals to remove central government funding and replace this with local business rates will hit the poorest local authorities hardest.


[1] MHCLG (2019) Local Government Financial Statistics England No.29 2019 https://bit.ly/33W1Oj2; (MHCLG (2019) Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing: 2018-19 Provisional Outturn, England https://bit.ly/33SKtr8

[2] Office for National Statistics (June 2018) Public sector employment UK, June 2018 (https://bit.ly/2zO1hn9)


View and download our full briefing here.