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SWBG Women's Survey results are in

Blog by Heather Williams, SWBG Training Lead

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of women in Scotland to find out more about their local public spending priorities, impact of the cost of living crisis and experiences of child and social care.

We heard from women in every local authority area in Scotland. 425 women responded to the survey with a range of life experiences.

Women told us that they didn’t think local authorities were taking women’s different needs into account when they made decisions, how cuts in services had impacted on them, that the cost of living crisis (even ahead of the energy increase in April) was worrying many and impacting on their spending decisions, and that caring responsibilities was impacting on their physical and emotional health as well as on their finances.

Read a detailed breakdown of the survey results.

Local Authority Priorities

Ahead of the recent local authority elections we asked women to rank what they thought should be the top 3 priorities of local authorities. They told us that addressing poverty, particularly in relation to the cost of living crisis many are experiencing, was the key area they felt local authorities should be focussing on. Followed by addressing the impact of the pandemic through improving responses to children’s mental health and wellbeing and adult social care.

Women from across Scotland told us that the changes made to service provision as a result of Covid was still negatively impacting on them and those they care for and it was important to get service’s operating again.

‘After school care is yet to return to pre-lockdown levels - I lost my job as I couldn’t manage childcare and working full time. Current employers are more understanding but my post has become temporary until I can commit to being able to work 9-5 five days a week by end of the year, which I cannot as still don’t have after school care available or breakfast club from 8’

‘Social care remains in complete meltdown due to previous disinvestment and the impact of the pandemic. As a result, I have no idea what would happen to my profoundly disabled husband if I get sick…. or worse. No one can answer this question. It’s a heavy worry which keeps me awake at night, it has been part of the reason we’ve remained tied to our home during this never-ending crisis.’

Cost of Living Crisis

Our survey was undertaken ahead of the energy price rise in April yet 32% of those who completed the question on increasing prices told us they were already struggling to afford energy costs. 45% told us they were having to make changes to other household spending to afford energy prices. Respondents told us they were switching heating off, or only having it on for a limited period to manage costs.

‘Living in an all-electric house, it's hard to achieve any level of cosiness however much you spend. My monthly DD has gone up from £45 to £73 pcm in one fell swoop and I'm dreading the price rise due in April. KWs produced by oil or gas radiators are far more efficient at heating. So it's not worth paying the extortionate prices; when I'm home, I wear multiple layers (including a hat), wrap myself in wraps and throws and have a hot water bottle. I heat the bathroom when I have a shower and put the heating on in the living room for a couple of hours in the evening.’

22% were struggling to manage food costs and almost 43% were having to make changes to other household spending to afford food costs. Respondents told us they were changing where they shop, buying cheaper brands or cutting back on buying certain goods.

‘The cost of food has gone up dramatically that I’m having to make a budget and I have cut down on what I thought were basics like cheese because the price has gone up dramatically.’

‘I had to leave the supermarket check-out leaving the shopping behind me or put few items away to afford the shopping, very embarrassing.’

Those who live in rural areas or those who have a disability told us that their ability to make savings was limited due to the additional costs associated with where they stayed or their disability.

‘Energy costs have increased during the winter months - meaning I have to choose between turning the heating on to keep my baby warm or being able to afford proper food for my baby. Transport costs are making it difficult to get into work on time, especially as local public transport is often late or cancelled.’

‘The diet has changed, my daughter has allergies and only certain foods can be bought - which are priced high! As a minority ethnic woman I have to travel into the city to buy certain food supplies - the cost of travel and food are felt much harder now so I try and forgo items. Life should not be about sacrifices all the time.’

‘I have a disability which is made worse by cold temperatures. I am fearful about turning my heating on at the moment in case I get a frightening bill. It is preventing me from being able to manage larger payments for repairs in my house.’

Women went on to tell us more about their experiences of child care and social care. We’ll share more on these experiences in this short series of blogs.

Read the full breakdown of the survey results.

The survey was undertaken between 9th February and 10th March 2022, 425 women from across Scotland responded.

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