UK Policy Briefings
Local Government, Gender and Covid-19
Date Posted: Monday 23rd November 2020
- Women and girls rely disproportionately on services provided by local authorities because they still do the majority of unpaid child/care work and therefore rely on local services to support themselves and their families. Women also make up 78% of local government workers.
- Women – particularly BAME 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.
- Central government funding for local authorities announced in February 2020 marked a slightly more generous settlement than those in recent years, albeit dependent on almost universal Council Tax increases and social care precepts. Increased central government investment is needed to reverse the damage done to local services over the past ten years.
- Many councils are still having to use reserves to compensate for cuts since 2010.
- Some are also borrowing to invest in commercial property which generates income for services. This is under threat as a result of Covid 19 and the ensuing recession
- Covid 19 poses a further threat to local government funding. Total Covid costs to councils at the start of July 2020 amounted to £7.4 billion –the equivalent of 13% of pre-crisis expenditure.
- Despite a Government promise to councils that they would be reimbursed for ‘whatever it takes’ to respond to the coronavirus, so far councils have only been promised £2.5 billion in extra funding and £3.7 billion in restored Council Tax and Business Rates – leaving a shortfall of £1.2 billion.
- Government should develop a sustainable, long term plan for funding local authorities at a level which enables them to meet their statutory duties and provide the local services which women and local communities rely on. Proposals to remove central government funding and replace this with local business rates will hit the poorest local authorities hardest.