Women and girls experiencing multiple unmet need urgently need to see ambitious, systems-change thinking where policy finally responds to lasting social problems by proposing gender- and trauma-informed solutions.
Unfortunately, we have seen none of this thinking in today’s King’s Speech; instead, legislation which had potential to improve public services for disadvantaged women and girls has been overlooked.
We are particularly disappointed that the pressing need for mental health legislation to be reformed has not been addressed and have voiced our concern to the Prime Minister alongside a number of other mental health organisations; read our letter here.
Additionally, while legislating for the presumption that sentences of less than 12 months in prison should be suspended is welcome for women and girls, we hope to see accompanying plans clearly setting out how the government will invest in strengthening community-based support to address the complex needs which often result in women and girls being criminalised.
Finally, we welcome continued work on the Victims and Prisoner’s Bill to ensure it meets the needs of women and girls experiencing multiple unmet need, and look forward to working with officials and sector partners towards that goal.
We urge the current Government, and future administrations, to assess where there is real, genuine need in our society following a pandemic and in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.
Women and girls’ needs have escalated across a wide range of policy areas, and deprioritising them in favour of short-term wins will only ever create worse problems for women, girls and public services overall further down the line.