A new report published yesterday (3 September), commissioned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) from London Metropolitan University, exposes the impact of the government’s austerity measures on LGBT services.
Staying Alive: The Impact of Austerity Cuts on the LGBT Voluntary and Community Sector in England and Wales is the first major investigation into the impact of spending cuts on the sector, which relies on central and local government sources for around half its funding.
The research found that the direct effects of austerity include the running down of financial reserves, reductions in services and to service levels, staff cuts, casualisation of the workforce and a greater reliance on volunteers. This has led to reduced employee morale, high staff turnover, loss of expertise and difficulties in finding alterative funding sources.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “LGBT services were already coping on a shoestring, receiving just 4p in every £100 of voluntary sector income. Some LGBT service providers now say they’re barely ‘staying alive’ and only a minority are optimistic that their future situation will improve.
“We are on the brink of a crisis with the financial reserves of many services running down and government plans for further rounds of austerity in danger of pushing them over the edge.
“While Britain has made great strides for the LGBT community in some areas, such as the right to equal marriage, we can’t afford to be complacent. Prejudice has not yet been eradicated and it helps perpetuate problems like higher rates of homelessness and mental illness in the LGBT community. This means LGBT services remain vital, and are at times a lifeline for people who need specialist support and have nowhere else to turn.
“LGBT services are funded from such a wide variety of national and local government sources that the complexity may be masking the true impact of cuts. The Equalities Minister, Nicky Morgan, must ensure the government does the work needed to see clearly the full picture and intervene where necessary to protect the vitality and reach of LGBT services.”
* The full report Staying Alive: The Impact of Austerity Cuts on the LGBT Voluntary and Community Sector in England and Wales can be found at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/StayingAlive.pdf