Why cutting women’s services is a false economy

By Annie O’Halloran (aka Pix, to those who view our posts on Facebook)

PLEASE SHARE! Austerity is hitting hardest for women in the UK, people with disabilities, unemployed people, and many other groups.

[content note: sexual assault; domestic violence]

Sure Start centres
Sure Start provide free drop in centres for parents, offering drop-in sessions, access to health visitors and GPs. They provide support groups for parents with learning disabilities, such as conditions on the autistic spectrum, and early intervention via parenting classes for all families. Where children are at risk of being taken into care by Social Services, parents are highly encouraged to take these free classes. It costs the UK taxpayer £2,500 a week to keep one child in the care of social services. On average it costs £7,150 a week to keep one of the 3,500 Sure Start centres open. Without measuring the costs of other benefits, if a Sure Start centre can keep 3 children out of Social Services’ care, they save the taxpayer money. They are an invaluable resource to mothers who have just had a baby, helping them to socialise and lessening the feelings of isolation that can come with being home alone with a new baby. As they are free to all regardless of income level, they help form a sense of social cohesion and community. The intent of these centres when they were set up was to lessen the gap between children from lower income families and their financially better off peers in terms of early performance in the education system. (sources: http://www.fassit.co.uk, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/24/budget-cuts-surgical-strikes)

Rape crisis centres
Rape crisis centres provide services to people who have experienced sexual assault and rape. A well documented potential consequence of sexual assault is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. If a service user of a rape crisis centre decides to go to the police, they are often there as support for court cases and other aspects of the criminal justice system. It is estimated that dealing with the fallout of domestic violence and abuse costs the UK Economy £23 billion. In 2006, the Home Office estimated the cost of sexual abuse and assaults to be four times that amount. Rapes and sexual assaults are heavily under-reported as crimes, and the most common perpetrators are people known to the victims. (source for economic figures: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_16688.pdf)

Domestic abuse/violence services
These services provide safe escape routes, advice, and support in prosecuting offenders for women and children escaping violent and abusive relationships. Refuge, the biggest charity organisation dealing with this, along with the Home Office stated that in England and Wales two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners. As stated above, it is estimated that domestic abuse and its effects cost the England and Wales economy £26 billion a year. Women’s Aid estimate that for every £1 spent, £8 is saved, in that there are fewer burdens on the NHS, local services and the benefits system. Domestic abuse and violence has increased 17% since the onset of the recession, yet funding for services has been slashed. Refuge states that 50% of women will experience domestic violence or abuse, sexual assault or stalking in their lifetimes. (sources: http://refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/what-is-domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/31/domestic-violence-rape-crisis-cuts_n_2049137.html)

The cuts to these particular services are a false economy, in financial terms when it comes to the economy. In a long term social sense, they are absolutely invaluable! Austerity isn’t working, and will cost lives and emotional and physical suffering.