Last week “Blue Sky” thinkers around Prime Minister David Cameron suggested childcare cuts, reduction in maternity leave rights and ensuring women who are teachers or work in the NHS are in fear of job loss need to be introduced to kick start the economy. However despite rowing back from some of these crazy ideas, since the Tory led Government came to power last May life for women particularly working mothers has already got much tougher.
A recent article in the Observer newspaper has identified where the Government’s policies have disproportionately hit women and their families. This includes:
· A £20m cut for providing playgrounds
· Abolishing grants that helped women eat healthy diets during pregnancy
· Removing the funding for childcare & Sure Start by 22.8% leading to a scaling back and imposing extra charges for holiday childcare and leisure activities
· Cutting the childcare element of the working tax credit from 80% to 70% meaning an average loss of £436 for 470,000 hard working families
· Slashing local authority funding across England by 27% over four years forcing Councils like Blackburn to cut services they aren’t required to provide by law such as libraries or support for young people that are crucial for working mums and their families
In Blackburn we are all too familiar with how the Government’s policies have really hit women with a whammy. The heartless decision to attack the “Building schools for the future” programme means local schools in Blackburn aren’t going to get the state of the art facilities they were originally promised. Library services and the parks services have had to be cut back and as we start the summer holidays playing areas that have been vandalised and are unsafe are having to remain closed. In addition, the voluntary and community sector that traditionally have provided valuable services have lost their funding and are resorted to begging for charitable donations and reducing the way they can help the vulnerable.
We keep hearing buzz words like the Big Society and increased Localism but in reality they are just camouflage for Government cuts and a couldn’t care less approach from Ministers towards our communities and women and their families in particular.
Shame on them!