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Tampons are still taxed.

If you take nothing else away from this Budget remember that the tampon tax is back. 2 years on from George Osborne’s announcement that the £15million in funds it raises would be used for women’s charities; 1 year on from David Cameron’s announcement it would be scrapped and it still exists. It will now, as the Chancellor Phillip Hammond was “honoured” to announce be used to fund women’s charities. Although the funding has been cut from £15million to £12million.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Brexit is already such a success that we will have to keep a universally reviled and unfair tax for another two years. Not only that, but women are now back to being forced to fund their own domestic violence shelters.

And no, these services are not optional. They are vital for the protection of women in our community and £12million doesn’t even scratch the service of previous cuts.

Under Tory austerity, 30% of specialist domestic violence services have closed as funds disappear. In 2016 alone, grants to local authorities, used to fund women’s refuges, were cut by 56%. This is not sustainable and forcing women to fund their own protection is frankly insulting.

In my local area, Broxtowe, the local Tory council cut funding to the Broxtowe Women’s refuge in half. Arguing that with funding tight they had to prioritise in the short run, whilst promising they might make up the shortfall in future.

According to Women’s Aid, 369 women are turned away from shelters each week. Since 2010, the only violent crime to rise has been violence against women. Legal aid cuts have routinely victimised women fleeing partners. Austerity has not just been a choice, it’s been a choice to punish women.

Some of the largest victims have been specialist providers for BME women. Analysis by Imkaan revealed that 67% of specialist providers felt uncertain about the future and were worried about closure. These services, providing advice on issues such as FGM, honour based violence and forced marriage, are considered unfavourably compared to larger, generic providers.

Whilst the Tories were busy failing women, Labour councillor Roxanne Ellis was busy elsewhere in Parliament unveiling a tribute to the victim’s of domestic violence. The Women’s Quilt is a memorial to every woman killed by their partner since 2009, hundreds of patches have been made commemorating the amazing women who’s lives were cut tragically short.

And now, the money extorted through the Tampon Tax will be used to cover up government failings. Women are being forced to fund their own care in an attempt to hide Tory incompetence.

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