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Impact of our work: Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessments


Investigating the impact of the public spending cuts on women in Coventry


Both 'Unravelling Equality and 'Feeling the Pinch' have had a huge impact both in Coventry and nationally. They bring together all the different effects of the cuts and demonstrate clearly how it is the combined impact that is most devastating. I am often down in Westminster and see both MPs and peers carrying around copies of these reports with them and referring to them frequently - they should be compulsory reading." Cllr Ann Lucas Cabinet Member Health and Community Services

Introduction

 

The Centre's work on investigating the Impact of the Public Spending Cuts on Women in Coventry has had a significant impact locally and at the national level. The Centre's reports have been extensiely debated by politicians locally and nationally. The model developed by CHRP and CWV has been adopted by other groups in Bristol, the North East and Islington and Liverpool. A toolkit produced by Mary-Ann Stephenson on the basis of the Coventry research has been widely disseminated around the country.

We also convened a workshop of key actors from around the country to discuss 'Using human rights and equality to analyse and chaleenge the public spending cuts'. The database developed by us as a result of that workshop in order to support groups around the country who wish to undertake their own human rights and equality impact assessments has been widely used by civil society groups and public authorities.

The Centre's work in this area led to an invitation from Coventry City Council to sit on a multistakeholder working group entitled "Evaluating the Impact of Welfare Reform Group". Through that forum, and as a result of the Centre's earlier work, we have developed an ESRC Collaborative Studentship Investigating the Impact of Welfare Reform. The project is a collaboration between the Centre and Coventry City Council. The Centre also has an ESRC Collaborative Studentship investigating cuts and changes to legal advice services which originated from the Centre's work on the impact of the spending cuts on women in Coventry.

 

The Reports


 

"Unravelling Equality: a human rights and equality impact assessment on the spending cuts on women in Coventry"

In May 2011, CHRP and CWV produced a report which considers the potential impact of the budget cuts on women in Coventry in relation to employment; housing; education and training; violence against women; health social care and other support services; legal advice services; and women's voluntary organisations. It also considers the impact of the spending cuts on women's incomes.

The report was launched on 17 May 2011 at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry was attended by more than 70 people including representatives from the following organisations:

Abacus Counselling, Advice Services Coventry, Association of Christian Counsellors, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, Coventry & Warwickshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, Coundon and Allesley Community Libraries, Coventry Haven, Coventry Somali Community Network, Coventry Telegraph, Coventry University, Coventry Women's Voices, Crown Prosecution Service, CYWU Unite, Foleshill Women’s Training, Holbrooks Community Care Association, Midlands TUC, Moat House Leisure and Neighbourhood Centre, NHS Coventry, Pertemps Learning and Education Alliance, Prowess, University of Warwick, Valley House Association, National Board of Catholic Women, Victim Support,Voluntary Action Coventry, West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, Westwood School and Willenhall Advice Centre.

 

"Getting off Lightly or Feeling the Pinch?" A Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Public Spending Cuts on Older Women in Coventry"

In July 2012, CHRP and CWV produced a 2nd report, which considered the impact on older women of public spending cuts in health, social care, transport, welfare benefits, employment and voluntary advice and services. The Full Report and Executive Summary are available here.

The report was launched on 19 July in the Herbert Gallery in Coventry and was attended by various individuals and representatives from the following orrganisations:

Advice Services Coventry, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, Coventry City Council (Councillors and Staff), Coventry Telegraph, Coventry University, Coventry Women's Voices, Crown,CYWU Unite, Foleshill Women’s Training, Midlands TUC, NHS Coventry, University of Warwick, and Voluntary Action Coventry,

"Layers of Inequality: A Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Public Spending Cuts on Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Women in Coventry."

On 8th July 2013, the Centre launched a 3rd report produced with Coventry Women’s Voices, Coventry Ethnic Minority Action Partnership and Foleshill Womens at a packed meeting. For those of you who weren’t able to attend you can listen to an edited audio of the launch event here, thanks to Radio Warwickshire, a community radio station.

National Impact


[The Government] need to undertake some proper, independent research on the impact of the cuts and their reforms on women. They should use the work that has been done by women’s organisations in Coventry with the University of Warwick.” Statement by Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 8 June 2011


We held a parliamentary seminar on 22 June 2011 with the Fawcett Society to present the findings of the first report to MPs and national policy makers. It attracted an audience of more than 75 representatives of public authorities, civil society groups, academics and Parliamentarians from all over the country. Many people expressed an interest in conducting similar studies in their own areas (which have since happened). A similar event was conduced to discuss our thirs report and its implications in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 5 March 2014.

On 12 July 2011, MPs in Westminster Hall conducted a detailed debate on the findings of the report. It was described by Coventry's three members of Parliament as "excellent research", "a first class piece of work" which "will increasingly be seen as a landmark". The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Justine Greening, promised to respond to the issues raised by the research which she was unable to answer during the debate. A transcript of the debate can be found on Hansard from Column 58WH.

Mary-Ann Stephenson was invited by Fiona Mactaggart MP to present the findings of the report at a round table meeting she organised with Shadow Minister for Women Yvette Cooper MP and an invited group of women’s voluntary organisations. There was a very high level of interest in the report with many organisations wanting to know how they could replicate the assessment in their own areas. The report was also presented at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in London with video links to Birmingham, Manchsester and Cardiff.

Mary-Ann Stephenson produced a toolkit ‘Women and the Cuts toolkit for the TUC on explaining how to carry out a human rights and equality impact assessment of the spending cuts on women," based on our work in Coventry

The Centres’ Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessments and Mary-Ann’s toolkit have also been utilised as a template for assessments by other groups around the country, including:

“We are an entirely voluntary organisation without any external funding. On the basis of the work done by [CHIP], we were able to produce our own report on the impact of the cuts on women in Bristol. The report had a big impact in Bristol, was referred to by officers in the drafting of their budgets, and has meant that the Council is now more willing and able to engage with the issues we have identified as they make their tough spending decisions. The resources that CHIP now proposes to create will be vital for other groups across the country to undertake the kind of work we have done.” Helen Mott, Chair of Bristol Fawcett

Impact In Coventry


“The work pioneered by the Centre for Human rights in Practice has been fantastic and has enabled us to undertake detailed analysis of the cuts with respect to the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our area. This has then allowed us to have a conversation with public authorities on the basis of strong evidence and analysis. It makes them more likely to take the concerns of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged seriously.” Christine McNaught, Centre Manager, FWT.

The Executive Summary of Unravelling Equality was sent by Councillor Phil Townsend to all Coventry city councillors with a suggestion that they read the full report. We presented presented the report's findings to councillors and senior council staff at a meeting on 7 September 2011. Councillors were particularly interested in the findings in relation to the combined impact of the cuts on particularly vulnerable groups such as lone parents and women victims of violence. There was general agreement that an inter-agency approach was necessary to deal with such issues as often cuts from many different agencies (e.g. national and local government, police, the NHS etc.) were often affecting the same individuals.

We have since presented the findings from the three reports produced to the Equalites and Community Cohesion theme group of the Coventry Partnership and Coventry City Council joint Trade Union Side (including Unite, Unison, Ucatt, GMB and Teacher Trade Unions).

Coventry Women’s Voices members have also reported that they have used the issues raised in the reports as the basis for local lobbying and campaigning. CWV members had various meetings with the organisations responsible for the cuts detailed in the reports to share concerns about their likely impact on women. It was reported that the reports provided powerful evidence for CWV members to advocate on behalf of their organisation and the women they work with.

The Centre's work in this area led to an invitation from Coventry City Council to sit on a multistakeholder working group entitled "Evaluating the Impact of Welfare Reform Group". Through that forum, and as a result of the Centre's earlier work, we have developed an ESRC Collaborative Studentship Investigating the Impact of Welfare Reform. The project is a collaboration between the Centre and Coventry City Council. The Centre also has an ESRC Collaborative Studentship investigating cuts and changes to legal advice services which originated from the Centre's work on the impact of the spending cuts on women in Coventry.

Press Coverage


To see media coverage about the report - click here

"Unravelling Equality" National and Local press releases

"Getting off Lightly or Feeling the Pinch?" National and Local press releases