Nottingham Women’s Centre is excited to bring you this autumn / winter update on our policy and campaign work.
1. What we are working on right now!
The Impact of Alcohol Tags on Women
Since March 2021, courts in England have introduced Alcohol Abstinence and Monitoring Requirements (AAMRs) where drinking was a factor in a crime. An alcohol tag is imposed within an AAMR for adult offenders as a requirement of a community order or suspended sentence order for an alcohol-related offence, or an associated offence that is alcohol-related.
AAMRs bans offenders from drinking alcohol for up to 120 days and offenders must wear an alcohol monitoring tag as part of their community sentence. Compliance is monitored electronically through the alcohol tag which monitors the presence of alcohol in offender’s sweat. A recent report shows high compliance rates, however there is yet no evidence of their impact on offenders.
Through its case work, Nottingham Women’s Centre has identified the case of the use of alcohol tags and its adverse impact of its use on women.
We are calling on relevant stakeholders to feed into our briefing proposing that the government looks into the women’s health needs and possible impacts on alcohol tags.
We are working with Alcohol Change UK as well as Severe and Multiple Disadvantage (SMD) Partnership Nottingham to better understand the prevalence of this issue and make changes at local and national level.
If you have lived experience of or work with women who have experience of alcohol tagging, or would like to feed into our briefing to the government please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prosecution for School Non Attendance – a disproportionate impact on women
Women who are single parents have to split their finances between the rising cost of food and energy bills with childcare costs, making it almost impossible to work or survive. This is further complicated where single mothers have children with special needs. Recent evidence shows that single mothers are over represented in the Criminal Justice System for failure to secure their children’s attendance in school.
Prosecuting parents for their children’s non-attendance in school is yet another government intervention that has failed to consider and support the intersecting needs and experiences of women. We have worked with women at the Centre who have been sentenced (mostly for the first time) because they ‘failed to get their children to attend school’ where in reality, such children either have unmet special educational needs or are bullied in school. These huge fines (up to £2500) further puts women under enormous financial pressure in the current climate.
We are calling on the Council to look into the root causes of the prosecution of parents for their children’s school non-attendance, especially for single mothers as this is an unfair burden in the current cost of living crisis.
2. On our radar…
Other issues we are aware of:
Rehousing from Refuge: There is an increased risk of homelessness as women seeking rehousing in Nottingham city are in Refuge for significantly longer which seems to have a direct correlational impact on symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Impact of proposed Public Order Bill: In April 2023, the Public Order Bill passed its final stages at the House of Lords. This bill will introduce more powers to restrict people’s fundamental rights to peaceful protest. This will impact us in two ways:
- Reclaim the Night and many other peaceful protests for women’s rights will be impeded as the law gives police power to define disruptive protests and issue protest bans preventing people from attending protests.
- Stop and search without suspicion, interferes with women’s rights to privacy and the right to freedom from discrimination particularly for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority women.
Lack of access to GPs for prison releases: Women released from prisons are struggling to register with GPs as their prison badges are not accepted as valid proof of ID/address.
Lack of support and inconsistency from solicitors and judges for domestic abuse survivors through the court processes
3. What We Achieved!
We were at Parliament on December 6th!
In October, we submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee highlighting the impact of the rising cost of living on women in Nottingham. We were invited to give further oral evidence on the experiences of women in Nottingham.
Free hours for childcare from April 2024
We submitted evidence to the Education Committee on the impact of unaffordable childcare costs on women after a survey and focus group conducted with women. The Department of Education has now announced new changes for free childcare to support more parents returning to work after parental leave.
Our evidence submission to the Women and Equality Government Committee, asking the committee to look into the health challenges women face and the impact of these experiences on their health and lives was published. We also fed into the ongoing health needs assessment for women in Nottingham. We believe this brings us a step closer to ensuring women’s health needs are taken seriously.
4. Partner Radar
Issues From Some Of Our Partners
A common issue across all partners is the limited funding to deliver services. Nottingham City Council’s issue of a section 114 notice in late November, has resulted in funding cuts and subsequent reductions in service provision. Other emerging issues experienced by our partners are noted below.
Notts LGBT+ is an all-volunteer organisation that provides a comprehensive database of LGBT+ information, 5 nights-a-week helpline, training, volunteering opportunities and an active presence for LGBT+ people in Nottingham.
- People struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and/or gender status
- People being unaware of local routes to socialising
Base 51’s OutBurst provides a safe space for LGBTQIA+ young people (aged 11-14).
- Supporting young people who identify as LGBTQ through their transition from high school to college to ensure they are able to deal with the challenges and emotions involved.
A network run by lesbian volunteers for Lesbian and Bisexual Asylum Seekers and Refugees around Nottingham
- Supporting members with mental well-being
- Cost of living / hardship
- Housing shortage
Notts Trans Hub (formally Trans Space Notts)
Notts Trans Hub is a trans support charity which runs two in-person support groups a month as well as an in-person social event.
- Challenges about national news stories about trans people and comments made by people affecting mental health.
Nottingham Muslim Women’s Network continues to provide women and girls (primarily Muslim women and girls) with advocacy and support around issues that affect their daily lives.
- Encouraging new attendees to attend services
- Limited funding
Vanclaron CIC is a community interest company with a mission to shape the design, development and provision of health and wellbeing services to be inclusive.
- Organisational capacity
- Limited funding
POW Nottingham supports sex workers and empowers vulnerable exploited people so they can be safe, secure and have choice.
- Housing needs
- Rising Cost of Living
5. Policy Updates
Autumn Statement/King’s Speech
The King’s Speech and the Autumn Statement in November respectively outlined a number of important updates and policy decisions relating to the UK economy. Here are some highlights from the autumn statement:
- National Insurance contributions will be reduced from 12% to 10% next year for employees paying the standard rate
- Benefits will increase by 6.7% (in-line with September’s inflation figure)
- State pension is being increased by 8.5% to £221.20/week
- As of April 2024, the national living wage will increase to £11.44/hour
- Class 2 National Insurance will be abolished for the self employed
There is a ‘back to work plan’ by the government to get more people into employment as there are actions around reforms to work capability assessment before people qualify for benefits.
Discretionary Friday/pre-Bank Holiday Release Scheme Policy Framework takes effect
The framework/process for bringing forward the release date of a person leaving prison by up to 2 eligible working days, where release date falls on a Friday or the day preceding a bank/public holiday has been published, will take effect from 30th Nov.
People will no longer have to disclose sentences for most jobs
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has brought new changes to spending period for convictions. This means that people will no longer have to disclose sentences for most jobs, although there is a list of excluded offences which will still remain unspent for life. People sentenced to community orders will be free to move on and stop disclosing their conviction as soon as the order ends.
Employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment from happening in their workplace
The landmark Worker Protection Bill has passed its final stage in the House of Commons which means it will become law before the end of the year. This bill requires employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment from happening in their workplaces including making clear policies, training and conducting proper and impartial investigations. This also means that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will be able to take action against organisations that breach this duty, and employers will be liable to individuals at an employment tribunal for sexual harassment claims.
6. Upcoming Policy & Campaign Work
Manifesto for Women
Are you a woman or a representative of a woman’s organisation? Come join us at our next Women’s Organisations Network (WON) meeting as we put together a Manifesto for Women that represents specifically women’s needs for the forthcoming general elections.
Get your voice heard! If you would like to attend, RSVP here: email@example.com
We hope to disseminate this Manifesto widely and hold our candidates accountable through our Hustings event.