Natalie Ntim is Assistant National Officer for Unison and has recently written a report entitled 'Counting the cost: how cuts are shrinking women's lives'. This crucial report delves into how cuts to Local Authority budgets are having a disproportionate and hugely detrimental impact on women's lives. Natalie has kindly written a guest blog for us on how cuts to bus services particulalry affect women who rely on them....
Bus services are the most popular form of public transport across the UK, particularly for women, who make 23% more bus journeys than men.
Buses are an integral part of women’s lives. Women use bus services to commute to work, travel within their community and access other local services. Buses are a lifeline for particular groups of women, such as low-paid women, older women, disabled women, young women and women living in rural areas, who are disproportionately affected when local bus services decline.
Bus services that are subsidised by local authorities are essential. They enhance existing bus timetables and routes for the benefit of residents and often run in rural areas.
UNISON’s latest Damage report, 'Counting the cost: how cuts are shrinking women's lives', looks at the impact of central government cuts on a range of services that are funded by local councils – including supported bus services – and how these cuts have damaged women lives.
We found that cuts to bus routes and increases in bus fares have had a significant impact on women. Cutbacks across public services disproportionately affect women, making it harder to get to or find work, feel like part of their community and feel safe when travelling at night.
In the survey for this research, women told us that bus cuts had restricted their employment options or made them feel more isolated. Cuts to bus services could also have a knock-on effect on the wider community – nearly 40% of women said that they used the bus to go shopping or to use other public services. Fare increases have made it more difficult for women to afford bus travel, with some having to choose between using the bus and having enough money to eat.
With more cuts to supported bus services on the horizon, women face a future of further isolation and tough choices as the number of bus routes fall and fares rise.
UNISON believes that there is an alternative to wave after wave of cuts to buses and other council services. We have launched the Save Our Local Services Campaign to call for a new funding system for local government, with more power and resources to put towards maintaining and improving services. Local council services are vital to women’s quality of life, both at work and in their communities.