eep the home fires burning! After the apocalyptic vision of post-Brexit Britain revealed last week in the leak of Operation Yellowhammer, we learn that the government will spend £4m on “local resilience forums” across England (and £1.7m for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) supporting Brexit preparations for public services.
The reasonably sane response might be – what public services? Central government funding for local government will have fallen by 56% in the 10 years to 2020. Or, to put a more human face on it, 1.4 million older people are not receiving the home care they need, 155 women and 103 children are turned away by refuges every day and hundreds of libraries, youth services, Sure Starts and day centres are closing weekly.
At the current rate, the main job of resilience forums will be putting up yet more shutters. All of which affects both men and women but no change is gender neutral in the damage it inflicts. Women have already paid a far heavier price from austerity and, deal or no deal, worse is to come.
So who will speak up? If women counted, what kind of an economy might we have? Wednesday 18 September sees the 30th birthday of the Women’s Budget Group (WBG), an independent thinktank that is now part of a global network of feminist economists who are growing in influence, particularly in places where there is an insightful leader such as New Zealand, with Jacinda Ardern. In May, her government introduced a wellbeing budget. Billed as the first in the world, it allocated millions to child poverty and narrowing the inequality gap. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the New Zealand economy will grow by 2.9% next year.
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