Build Back Equal
Over the last six months the government has failed women and the most vulnerable. The Women's Equality Party is ensuring that we not only build back better from the coronavirus crisis, but that we Build Back Equal.
We were told by the Government that Coronavirus was a “great leveller” but we always knew it would be the great revealer. It shone a light on the deep inequalities in our country, and the poorest and most vulnerable are being hit the hardest:
- The health and care workers who saw us through this crisis are not even paid a real living wage and their work is classified as “unskilled”.
- Black people are twice as likely to be killed by the virus compared to white people, even when you take into account other factors such as age and health.
- Parents have been expected to carry on working without any childcare or support, and a quarter of nurseries will be forced to close by April.
- The sectors where women work have faced the biggest closures and more women have been furloughed or made redundant than men.
- The number of women killed by their partners doubled during lockdown. A rise in abuse cases coupled with lack of resources for service providers led to a violence crisis and failed the 1.6m women a year who experience domestic violence in the UK. Funding cuts to refuges of around 50% since 2011, along with a surge in reported incidences of abuse meant that 60% of those turning to refuges for support this year were turned away.
This is political. We need to stand up and fight for equality.
WE are joining forces with Build Back Better to demand a care-led recovery
Build Back Better Statement
As we emerge from this crisis, now is the time to Build Back Better.
To do so we must heed the lessons it has taught:
That as a society, for many years, we did not listen to the scientists about the risks of such a pandemic and were not prepared.
That for decades our health and social care systems were both dangerously under-resourced and in need of reform.
That many key workers in our economy - many of them women, and many not born in this country - are among the least valued and lowest-paid.
That longstanding inequalities in our society have left too many vulnerable.
And that no country can stand alone in the face of common threats.
Yet we can also draw on new sources of hope:
That when faced with a crisis, government can spend wisely, at speed and at scale.
That care, neighbourliness and mutual support are the threads that bind our communities together.
That clean air and a concern for wellbeing can inspire more sustainable and enjoyable ways of living.
And that by working with other countries we can find common solutions to the gravest problems.
Some have compared this crisis to the Second World War. Then, as now, it was widely agreed that there was no going back.
But #BuildBackBetter must be more than just a slogan. We must answer these profound questions:
- How to ensure health, social care, housing and other vital public services are properly resourced and able to meet our future needs.
- How to mend the inequalities in our society so that everyone, no matter their background or race, can live a decent, fulfilling life.
- How to create secure, well-paid and rewarding jobs for all who want them, particularly for young people.
- And how not just to build our resilience to future pandemics, but to tackle the climate and environmental emergency already upon us.
Many will have other questions too: like how to create a better democracy, to harness technology for public good, to build a fairer and more cooperative world.
Answering these questions, and more, is a challenge to us all; to political parties, businesses, trade unions, civil society and citizens.
But it is a challenge to which, together, we can rise.
With the best of human values, and the determination of politicians and citizens, we can emerge from this crisis a stronger, fairer, greener country.
We must #BuildBackBetter.
Care workers have risked their lives to work during the Covid-19 crisis. Demand the government stops legislation which could leave them facing deportation.
Without the vital work of our care workforce - many of whom come from abroad - the UK would not have got through the coronavirus pandemic. Care workers have risked their health and in some cases even lost their lives while continuing to do highly skilled and essential work supporting people at a time when they needed it most.
This month MPs will be voting on a bill that would leave many migrant care workers facing deportation. The immigration bill classes care work as ‘low-skilled’ and sets an income threshold that workers in the chronically undervalued care sector will not be able to meet.
It is currently easier to migrate to UK as a strawberry picker than it is as a care worker.
We went into the Covid-19 crisis with 120,000 vacancies in care work, a staff shortage that was exacerbated by failure to provide testing or protective equipment. It is clear that the government has learned nothing from the tragedy that unfolded in our understaffed, underfunded care homes. By introducing a bill which categorises carers as ‘low-skilled’ and prevents these crucial workers from entering the UK from overseas, they have shown once again how little it values care, care workers and those who rely on them.
It’s not enough to clap for carers any more - we must fight for them.
Sign our petition to demand that the government:
- Removes the discriminatory income threshold from the immigration bill.
- Ends the insulting ‘low-skilled’ label for care work.
- Guarantees that vital care workers will be able to migrate to the UK.
Protest for Care - Saturday 23rd May ✊
In the face of an unprecedented national crisis the UK government has consistently failed the millions who receive care and the carers who work tirelessly to support them. Twenty five percent of Covid deaths are now in care settings and carers are twice as likely to die of Covid as the general population.
Political decisions worsened this crisis, we need urgent political action to help to lift us out of it.
Our protest calls for: guaranteed PPE and a real living wage for every care worker, and urgent funding for the sector. Help us make this a reality for care workers and those who rely on care.
Join the rally at 2pm and hear from:
- Mandu Reid - 2:00
- Sandi Toksvig - 2:10
- Dr Sarabajaya Kumar - 2:15
- Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown - 2:20
- Karolina Gerlich - 2:25
BSL interpretation will be available.
Sign up below to receive the link & tune in via Zoom!
Why is it important to post on social media:
Political decisions worsened the care crisis and we must create pressure for urgent political action to help to lift us out of it. To do this we need to keep this issue in the media and online and we need to demonstrate that there is a political cost to the government for continuing to ignore and underfund care - participating will help to do both.
Covid means that we can’t physically gather and protest, but we can still show the overwhelming support for urgent action by marching remotely and making noise on social media and in our communities.Become a volunteer
Nurses and carers are on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis. Demand that the government gives them fair pay and protection.
If this crisis has demonstrated anything, it is what we already knew: care matters. Our economy, our whole society would not function without it. We must protect and value those who deliver it.
Seventeen percent of residential care workers live in poverty, half do not receive a real living wage and student nurses are being charged tuition fees to work on the front line.
Boris Johnson said he owes the NHS his life, but without action those are just empty words. What he really owes them - and the thousands of carers and other key workers who are holding our country together - is proper protective gear, better working conditions and a living wage.
Our care workforce is overwhelmingly female, disproportionately BAME, undervalued and fighting to protect all our health.
Last year already saw 44,000 NHS nursing vacancies and a shortage of more than 200,000 staff across NHS trusts and adult social care, with 30% of adult social care workers leaving annually. Meanwhile the lowest NHS pay band for a nurse is under £20,000 and many carers earn little more than minimum wage.
Our petition calls for:
1. Guaranteed PPE for every front line worker
2. Guaranteed real living wage for all carers
3. A pay rise for every nurse
4. The reintroduction of pre-coalition bursaries and an end to nursing tuition fees
5. End the migrant NHS surcharge for nurse and care workers *Campaign win - Government has now ended the NHS surcharge for all migrant NHS and care workers*
Sign our petition today to call for urgent action.
You can take further action by writing to your MP, and demanding that they commit to guarantee a real living wage and full PPE for all care workers, increase care funding to pre-2010 levels, and reinstate councils' duties under the care act.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
25th March 2020
10 Downing Street
Over the last week, monumental measures have been taken by the government to control the spread of coronavirus and now parliament is closing early for the same reason. While we welcome the measures that are needed to try and keep people safe, requiring people to stay at home and effectively ‘locking down’ the UK does not protect the safety of everyone. Increased measures of societal control put women and children experiencing domestic abuse at far greater danger. Government has a duty of care to protect every member of the public.
The 1.6 million women experiencing domestic abuse yearly should be no exception.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders enable the police to temporarily remove suspected perpetrators from a victims’ home for up to 28 days. They are underused across the UK because of the cost and administrative burden. At the same time support services are struggling to keep up with demand from women seeking help. Funding cuts to refuges of around 50% since 2011, along with a surge in reported incidences of abuse has led to 60% of referrals to refuges being turned away.
Reports from organisations across the globe have shown domestic abuse increases with enforced isolation
From a charity in Hubei to a domestic violence hotline in Oregon, reports suggest that social distancing and lockdown measures result in an increase in cases of domestic abuse as households become pressure cookers for coercive control and violence. The government cannot just close its own doors and abandon people to these increased risks without ensuring the police have the powers they need to intervene, and support services are properly resourced.
There are immediate steps that can be taken to protect survivors:
- Domestic Violence Protection Orders must be extended to cover the full isolation period giving victims immediate protection away from the threat of violence, and breathing space to make vital decisions.
- Court fees for cases of domestic abuse must be waived with cases prioritised in court and delegated to trained magistrates.
- Emergency funding must urgently be supplied to refuge services who are currently under immense pressure to protect the increasing number of domestic abuse victims.
If our government acts now, lives can be saved.
Over the past week, our government has proven that in urgent times, urgent measures are well within reach. Parliament must reopen to change the law on DVPOs and release emergency funding for support services. Women’s lives depend on it.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
Covid-19 is a global pandemic. It is crucial that we all follow the measures needed to tackle it while the people at the frontlines of the NHS do everything they can to save lives.
But those measures shouldn’t leave anyone fighting to keep their job, home or business.
Nobody should ever have to choose between their health and their livelihood.
Many self employed people, and those on zero hour contracts have already taken a major financial hit from this crisis, losing shifts, contracts and clients as the measures needed to tackle the spread of the virus became clear. Some lost jobs before Government announcements of support for employees, others are expecting a drastic cut to their income as a result of social distancing.
Self employed childminders and nursery workers on zero hour contracts deliver the same essential services as employees, but they have no clarity on whether they will receive the income support they need, and are already being forced to make agonising choices about staying safe, supporting their clients, and paying their bills. We urgently need to release funds to support them and all workers who are affected by this crisis.
Political decisions to implement a decade of austerity after the last crisis resulted in higher numbers of women in precarious work and women becoming self-employed at a faster rate than men, as they faced public sector job losses and juggled additional caring responsibilities. Now school and nursery closures disproportionately require women to slash their working hours to care for their children, because unless they are key workers, caring almost always falls to women.
The Government’s response to this crisis must protect the women who bore the brunt of the last one.
WE are calling on the Government to do whatever it takes to secure the incomes of people who are watching their work collapse before their eyes by:
- Guaranteeing 80% of self-employed workers’ average income, up to £2,500, just as they have for PAYE employees
- Urgently releasing emergency financial support through the benefit system until the new system for reimbursing 80% of lost wages is established, with a guarantee that no one will be penalised when their wages are finally reimbursed;
- Abolishing the 5 week wait for Government benefits for every new claimant; and
- An immediate end to the two child limit for benefit claimants
Social distancing protects us all. We urgently need to support all workers to ensure that they are able to take the actions that will keep us all safe.
No woman was ever turned away from refuge
What do we know?
Last year over 60% of referrals to refuges were turned away across the capital; equivalent to around 2,000 women in a single year, many with children. As cases of domestic abuse rose by 63% from 2011 to 2018 in London - this is a state of emergency.
The economic cost to London of domestic abuse is approximately £8.4 billion a year taking into account physical and mental health services, preventative action, and emergency services.
There has been an average reduction of 32% to council funding for refuges across London boroughs between 2010 and 2018. Only around a quarter of refuges are specialist BAME services, despite BAME women making up around 46% of referrals. Not one refuge in London is fully wheelchair accessible.
Why are women's refuges so important?
Specialist refuge services don’t just offer a bed. They help women and their children to rebuild their lives, offering counselling, advocacy, legal advice, employment and skills advice and moving on support. Many specialist services also support survivors and children impacted by sexual violence, forced marriage, FGM, sexual exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery.
How does the GLA fit in?
If the government passes its Domestic Abuse Bill, it should carry with it a new statutory duty for the GLA to provide accommodation to survivors of domestic abuse from April 2021. This will require cooperation from London boroughs, and demand the Mayor take leadership.
Sharing your votes with the Women's Equality Party on 7th May is a real opportunity to take the London strategy for ending violence against women to the next level, and to ensure that no woman is turned away from a refuge.
How will the Women's Equality Party tackle this?
WE will lobby the government to bring in the legislation, and ensure the new duty comes with adequate ring-fenced funding so that boroughs are not forced to divert resources from other needs to fulfil it.
WE will work with the new national commissioner for domestic abuse and with local commissioners, to map the needs and services across London, and fund the gaps.
WE will expand the raw number of refuge places by 450 creating 40 new refuges. This will be funded through the Affordable Homes programme to be completed by 2022.
WE will work with London councils to increase the provision for women with no recourse to public funds, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse but have no access to benefits.
Safety should not be a luxury. Safety should be a right.
You can make this happen.
Vaginal mesh is the biggest public health scandal since Thalidomide.
Vaginal mesh is the biggest public health scandal since Thalidomide. Manufacturers ‘aggressively hustled’ these medical devices onto the market and into women’s bodies, without any clinical trials. Since their introduction in 1998 thousands of women have come forward to report complications, including nerve damage, chronic pain, scarring and organ perforation. ~
Tragically, many of those women were disbelieved, and despite bans in New Zealand and the USA our Government has still failed to permanently ban them from the market.
We are demanding:
- An immediate, permanent ban on vaginal mesh in the UK
- Compensation for the thousands of women affected
- Better regulation to ensure this can never happen again
Healthcare, like so many other areas of society, is full of inequalities which hold women back.
Sign our petition to end this unnecessary suffering for good.
WE are calling on the government to reinstate nurse bursaries and commit to increasing nurses’ pay in line with inflation.
Nurses are the backbone of the NHS. They support their patients when it feels like the sky is falling in on them and do amazing work in the face of huge challenges.
But nurses are currently leaving the NHS in record numbers and fewer and fewer people are training to become nurses, because the low wages and immense pressure of the job mean it is simply not worth their while.
If you want to thank nurses this International Women’s Day - and help us fight for them to be valued - add your name to our petition. Together we can push the government to reinstate nurse bursaries and commit to increasing nurses’ pay in line with inflation.
WE are celebrating nurses because WE care about women and WE value the work women do. Show them that you do too by signing below.
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