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2012 National Women's Conference
16 September 2011

Conference deplores the Tory-led government’s brutal and unnecessary cuts on public services, many of which have had a particular impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women.

These ideologically driven cuts to public sector funding have seen targeted services such as those delivered by domestic abuse workers, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) prevention workers, LGBT youth workers, LGBT, women’s and equalities officers lost. Mainstream council services which LGBT women rely on, like social care and libraries, have been severely affected. Council and National Health Service (NHS) contributions to voluntary sector organisations have been reduced, with LGBT community organisations delivering vital services among the first to feel the threat of closure.

The Tories’ promise to protect the NHS has turned out to be hollow. LGBT women are already experiencing the detrimental impact of cuts to the NHS. NHS trusts across the country have started tighter rationing of NHS funding for a range of treatments such as In Vitro Fertilisation. Many are taking steps to scale back and reduce access to whole swathes of vital healthcare including HIV services, safer sex services, gender reassignment surgery, mental health and addiction services.

Cuts to police and justice services will hamper their ability to deal with hate crime and domestic abuse. The wholesale attempt to privatise education through free schools and academies and through developing a market in higher education will make it more likely that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education will go unchallenged.

Conference also notes that our pensions are under fire and our terms and conditions such as pay, allowances and sick leave are being chipped away. Conference believes that the attack on pensions and terms and conditions is a first step towards selling off public services and ensuring even greater profits for private sector providers.

Conference further notes that unemployment amongst women has increased massively and is at its highest level in twenty-three years. Public sector cuts have played a huge part in job losses, as women make up two thirds of these workers. The threat of losing their job can deter LGBT women from raising complaints about harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Conference acknowledges the lack of awareness of the impact this concerted assault on public services is having on LGBT women.

Conference recognises to save jobs and public services, including those targeted at LGBT women, we need to continually focus on building the strength of public opinion behind us. We must push home the core UNISON messages that these cuts are unnecessary and we are not all in this together.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to urge regional women’s groups to:

1)Use the Million Voices campaign materials to educate the public about the value of public services including specific services targeted at women and LGBT women;

2)Record the impact of government cuts in their local areas for use in campaigning;

3)Seek ways to work more closely with other regional self organised groups including regional LGBT groups, other unions and trade union networks, local voluntary and community sector organisations and anti-cuts groups, where appropriate.

Conference further calls the National Women’s Committee to:

a)Develop a comprehensive, proactive communications strategy, including targeted campaign materials, publicising the impact of the attack on public services on women, with specific reference to LGBT women;

b)Work with appropriate national community and voluntary organisations fighting the cuts;

c)Work with appropriate structures in UNISON to highlight cuts to LGBT women’s services and campaign for properly funded LGBT women’s services.