Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
LGBT groups are suffering disproportionately as the government continues to tighten spending and further reduces charity funding, according to a report from the TUC.
The report, written by academics from the Faculty of Business and Law, at London Metropolitan University, points out that LGBT service organisations have historically needed to rely on a relatively high level of public funding, so are particularly vulnerable when cuts and reforms are enforced. Although 50 per cent of all funding for such groups come from the public sector, they make up just 0.04 per cent overall.
Despite the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 and changing social attitudes, discrimination still affects LGBT people in England and Wales. Demand therefore remains high – and in some cases continues to rise, with demand from across the community, including trans*, bisexual, BME, people with disabilities. There are also differing needs to be met among urban and rural LGBT populations.
LGBT VCS organisations also provide expertise to non-LGBT public, private and voluntary sector bodies who want or need to raise awareness of LGBT, broader equality and diversity and sexual health issues.
The direct effects of the cuts on organisations include
The authors say, ‘This has led to loss of morale, higher staff turnover and subsequent reduction in provision of expertise. There have also been impacts on provision of premises, whether through reduction of time available for meetings or service user access, or loss of premises altogether.’
With much of the potential for ‘efficiency savings’ already exhausted, the Local Government Association (LGA) concluded any further cuts will mean that councils will be unlikely to meet all of their statutory responsibilities with respect to the delivery of front line services. They add that the most difficult decisions on local cuts are likely to begin to bite in the year starting April
One voluntary sector organisation commented: ‘For a long time black LGBT people haven’t always been able to access mainstream service providers, whether it’s health care, education, employment or other. So there’s been a recognition that systemically black people are excluded and black LGBT people are doubly excluded.’
Another added: ‘Some LGBT people are comfortable to access advice anywhere and will have no problem about their sexual or gender identity. But there are other LGBT people for whom there’s maybe some issues. When we talked to a lot of trans* people, a lot were quite wary of dealing with a whole host of organisations because they’d had very negative experiences, both real and perceived.’
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that LGBT services were already coping on a shoestring, receiving just 4p in every £100 of voluntary sector income, and only a minority are optimistic that their future situation will improve.
She added: ‘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.’
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