The UK government’s decision to cut £200 million from the public health grant to local authorities has already had an impact on the quality and extent of family planning provision in England. Please contact your council to ask them to protect sexual and reproductive health services and let the government know of your opposition to the cuts.
One-in-six pregnancies in the UK are still unplanned, with younger people most at risk. Provision of family planning services is now largely the responsibility of local councils but without financial support from central government, they are being forced to make tough choices.
The Advisory Group on Contraception says a third of councils in England have cut, or are considering cutting the number of GP practices able to provide methods such as coils and implants and that a quarter of councils have shut or may close some of their contraceptive services. Further finance cuts are scheduled up until 2021.
The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe. Cuts to SRH services will only worsen this problem. Teenage mothers and their children have poorer health and education outcomes and an increased chance of living in poverty. Children of teenage mothers are also more likely to become teenage parents themselves.
Reduced availability of family planning will lead to more unwanted pregnancies and an increase in population, having a negative effect on our public services and the environment.
1. Sign the petition
The Family Planning Association has launched a petition calling for contraceptive services to be protected. Please sign it, and share with friends and family.
The petition is hosted on the Care2 petition site, here.
2. If you live in England, contact your local council and ask them to protect sexual & reproductive health (SRH) services
You can find the name of your local council and a link to their website here . In most areas, the head of the council is called the Leader but their websites will provide more details about their titles and how to contact them. You can also find the names of the councilors who represent your area in the council here.
You can find detailed information about the effects of the cuts on SRH services in our briefing here. Points for your letter or email can include:
– Understanding that the council is in a difficult position
– SRH services help protect especially vulnerable groups, such as young people and those living in poverty
– Provision of long-acting reversible contraceptives (such as coils) is hardest hit by cuts but these are among the effective forms of contraception, with very low failure rates
– A survey in 2012 found that 3.2 million women aged between 15 and 44 experienced restrictions in accessing contraception and SRH services. Further cuts will increase the unmet need for these services
– Abortion rates are higher in areas where services are restricted
– Helping prevent unwanted pregnancy will relieve the burden on council services such as schools
3. Email your MP
Please ask your MP to put pressure on the government to ensure contraceptive services are protected. You can find their contact details here. Please keep letter short and polite.
In addition to the points above, you could also inform them that the UK’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Faculty of Public Health and the National Health Service (NHS) Confederation have opposed these cuts, labelling them “a false economy”, whose consequences will be poorer public health, a likely increase in sexually-transmitted diseases and an extra burden on the NHS. In September 2016, the UK parliament’s Health Select Committee amplified that message and warned that the cuts threaten to worsen health inequalities.