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UK Policy Briefing

Local government and gender: Briefing for a new government

This briefing looks at local government funding and its distinct impact on women.

Heather Wakefield and Angela Barca


  • Councils’ spending power has fallen by 26% since 2010. In real terms, councils’ core funding has fallen on average by 18% per person since 2010. When adjusted for inflation and population growth, the final 2024-2025 Funding Settlement for Local Government results in lower funding levels for all councils than in 2015/16.
  • Increased dependency on Council Tax has hit the poorest local authorities hardest. Overall, the most deprived councils have had lower increases in core spending power than the wealthiest councils since 2011/12. In the most deprived tenth of councils, funding per person has fallen by 35%, compared to a 15% fall in the least deprived tenth of councils.
  • Local authorities face a funding gap of £6 billion in the next two years, Women and girls – particularly Black, Asian and minority ethnic and Disabled women – have been hit hardest by spending cuts and depend disproportionately on local authority and care services because they still do most of the unpaid child/care work and rely on local services to support themselves and their families.
  • Women also make up 75% of local government and school workers – affected by pay cuts and redundancies.
  • For more information about the impact of cuts to local government services on women see WBG (2019) Triple whammy – the impact of local government cuts on women 


  • Local government funding needs to be urgently restored to a level which enables councils to meet their statutory obligations and also provide the preventive, non-statutory services which are vital to the well-being of women, children and those in need of all forms of care.
  • Meaningful equality impact assessments of local government funding levels and proposed cuts should be carried out by central government and local authorities.
  • Adequate funding should come from general taxation/central government, at least at the same level as for other public services.
  • The Fair Funding Review has been repeatedly delayed, most recently to beyond 2025. Councils need long-term funding certainty, and the review should look at the totality of resources needed by councils, not simply re-distribution of the current pot.
  • The distribution of central government funding should ensure that the most deprived council areas are properly funded to reflect the greater reliance of poorer people and women on local services. Current deprivation levels should be included in any future local authority funding formula to ensure genuine ‘levelling up’.
  • The shift to dependence on Business Rates and Council Tax should be reviewed, while giving councils greater autonomy and powers to generate local income.
  • Cuts to funding of voluntary sector women’s services must be reversed at a minimum as part of a review of sustainable funding for the sector to support and protect women survivors/victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
  • Decent pay and conditions for local government workers, commensurate with other public sector groups, should be ensured through adequate funding to councils and an end to privatisation as a means of cutting women’s incomes.