“The Chancellor’s budget speech made clear exactly how proactive the government can be when it takes a public health emergency seriously. It also made it clear that another emergency - that of domestic abuse - is not even considered worth mentioning.
“This budget is about funding men’s jobs while women are left behind. When you do that, you increase inequality, damage society’s ability to deal with future crises and epidemics like Coronavirus and create the context in which violence against women and girls thrives.”
“Coronavirus is undoubtedly a great threat to public health. Since the outbreak started, six people have died in the UK and hundreds have been infected. But in that same time period, eight women in the UK will have been killed by a partner or ex-partner, while hundreds of thousands continue to live with the terror of abuse. And yet in his budget, the Chancellor commits just £15 million to tackle that abuse - a pittance compared to the £393 million that is needed, or the £66 billion the Home Office estimates that abuse costs the UK economy every year.
“Other crucial measures are conspicuous by their absence. Despite well-publicised public pressure on the Chancellor to address the social care crisis, social care was not even mentioned. Nor was any additional funding for local government, despite the fact that many of the services they provide are already on their knees. Meanwhile, cuts to business rates - while very helpful to businesses struggling with the economic impacts of coronavirus - will actually reduce sources of council funding even further.
“The threat of coronavirus is all the greater because the services we will rely on to tackle it have been so neglected for so long. Our NHS is our first line of defence, but £5bn is only enough to paper the cracks after years of underfunding and understaffing have left it in crisis. Many of those most vulnerable to the effects of the virus are dependent on a social care system which is in tatters. Women, who disproportionately work in and rely on our public services and staff 75 percent of our NHS, will be expected to pick up extra unpaid care as schools close, pressuring the health service still further.
“The Chancellor has boasted of record capital investment for roads, airports and other forms of physical infrastructure. Meanwhile, yet again, our social infrastructure has been overlooked to the detriment of women in particular and society in general."