Staying alive – the impact of austerity cuts on LGBT workers in community

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2017 Community Service Group Conference
10 November 2016

Conference notes the report “Staying Alive: The Impact of Austerity Cuts on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Voluntary and Community Sector in England and Wales 2014, a report commissioned by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) which identified that reductions in funding from the public sector mean that LGBT community organisations are having to diversify their search for funding.

The findings of the report in respect of the impact of cuts included:

1)increased difficulty in planning,

2)using reserves to cover shortfalls in the short term,

3)cuts to or reductions in services and service levels,

4)reduced staffing levels with loss of posts and redundancies,

5)reductions in terms and conditions,

6)moves to part time work for previously full time staff

7)increased reliance on volunteers

8)loss of morale, higher staff turnover and reduction in provision of expertise.

Conference notes that since 2014, the situation for the community sector and in particular for specialist LGBT services and for our LGBT members has become increasingly difficult. Concern about the viability of contracts has increased, with commissioners expecting “more for less”. The “race to the bottom” results in attacks on our terms and conditions, introduction of short term contracts and increasing job insecurity and low pay. LGBT members do not feel confident to speak out when they experience harassment or discrimination for fear of losing their jobs, particularly in small workplaces.

This is confirmed by research by NatCen Social Research for UNISON, published at the end of 2016, on the implications of reductions to public spending for LGB and T people and services. This research found a disproportionate impact of public spending cuts on LGBT people. It uncovered a dangerous mix of:

a)LGBT groups considered less of a priority to fund and less ‘popular’ with funders;

b)closure of specialist LGBT community services with resulting redundancies;

c)remaining services struggling to survive: increasingly staffed by volunteers or staff on short-term contracts and with some workers having to meet costs from their own pockets;

d)surviving specialist LGBT community groups expected to take on a much broader equality remit, adding considerably to workload and workplace stress

e)cuts to local authority and NHS services meaning loss of their equality specialists, resulting in ‘mainstream’ services increasingly signposting service users to specialist community services, adding further to demand;

f)service users’ needs increasing in complexity and severity at the very time the capacity of the community sector and its workers to meet these needs is under unprecedented strain.

Conference calls on the community service group executive, liaising with the national LGBT committee and other self organised groups, to:

1)publicise these NatCen and TUC findings to branches with community members, to promote our campaign for proper funding of our vital community services;

2)keep the impact of cuts on LGBT workers on the bargaining agenda;

3)circulate guidance to branches on involvement in commissioning processes to secure workplace rights and equality commitments;

4)keep community members regularly informed of developments in bargaining on LGBT equality and other equality issues via its e-bulletin.