Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Pandemic – Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK – APPG

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPG SRH) is a group of MPs and Peers seeking to raise awareness in Parliament of the needs of women seeking abortion and the importance of improving the sexual health of people in the UK.

We bring together Parliamentarians, experts and campaigners to examine issues within sexual and reproductive healthcare in the UK, and to explore options to improve healthcare through policy and legislative change. The Group is chaired by Baroness Barker and Diana Johnson MP.

The Inquiry into Access to Contraception

The APPG SRH opened Inquiry into Access to Contraception in 2019, in response to reports of women being unable to access contraception in a way that meets their needs. We reopened evidence submissions in May 2020 in order to examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s access to contraception.

The Inquiry found that years of cuts to budgets, the deeply fragmented commissioning system, a lack of support for provision of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) in primary care, recruitment and retention issues as well as the COVID-19 pandemic have made it harder for women to access contraception. The cross-party group of Parliamentarians is calling for an integrated commissioning model for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH), with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for commissioning.

The Inquiry’s report, Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Contraception can be downloaded below:


September 21, 2020

Review state pension entitlements for all women who may have been underpaid – Petition to Parliament

The DWP is checking its records to find women whose state pensions have been underpaid, but there are concerns these checks may not cover widows, older married women and the over 80s who may have be underpaid.

DWP’s search of its records must be comprehensive.

Under the old state pension, women could claim a pension based on the contributions of a husband, ex-husband or late husband.

DWP has acknowledged that in some cases this did not work and women are being underpaid, and is checking to find these women and compensate them.

But others may be missing out, including widows, certain older married women and the over 80s.

DWP must check their entitlements and provide compensation for any underpayment, rather than wait for them to claim, one-by-one.

You can sign the petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/334388

September 17, 2020

Paying GPs to provide contraception information linked to reduced abortions – Imperial College London Research

Providing general practitioners (GPs) with financial incentives to offer information about long-acting contraceptives, such as the hormonal implant, is associated with an increase in their use, and a fall in the number of abortions .

This is the finding of researchers from Imperial College London, who conducted the first large-scale analysis of an incentive scheme for GPs to provide women with information about long-acting reversible contraceptives, termed LARCs. The team analysed data from the anonymised health records of over three million women in England, Wales and Scotland between financial years 2004/2005 to 2013/2014.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, and published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that the scheme was associated with a 13 per cent increase in LARC prescriptions (or absolute increase of 4.5 prescriptions per 1,000 women), above what would have been expected, four years after the scheme was introduced.

This was accompanied by a fall of nearly 17% in number of prescriptions for non-LARC contraception (or absolute decrease of 42 prescriptions per 1,000 women) in the same four-year period, suggesting a major switch in the choice of contraceptive method used.

The findings also showed a 38 per cent more than expected reduction in abortions (or absolute reduction of 5.3 per 1,000 women) four years after the incentive was introduced. This is the equivalent of 95,170 fewer abortions than expected, if the results were extrapolated across the whole UK population.

Most of the impact on LARC prescriptions and abortions were among women under 25 years old, and those from poorer areas.

The UK government introduced a financial incentive scheme called the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) in 2004/05 which rewarded primary care practices for improving the quality of care. A new target was introduced under this pay for performance (P4P) scheme in 2009/10 for GPs to provide information about LARC to any female patient between the ages of 13-54 who had previously received a prescription for contraceptives, including emergency hormonal contraception. This advice was given in person, as a text message or leaflet. This target was worth about £700 (US$900 or €760) per year for an average sized practice of 6,000 patients. The GPs were not paid for the number of LARC prescriptions issued, only for reaching a target (50% to 90%) of women given information about LARCs.

LARCs include the contraceptive injection which is effective for 3 months, contraceptive implant (effective for 3 years), intrauterine system (IUS, effective for 5 years), and intrauterine device (IUD or “coil”, effective for up to 10 years).

The scheme was introduced in 2009, and the study examined the number of LARCs prescribed for five years before, and four years after the scheme, while giving the scheme one full year to take effect. The study also examined the number of prescriptions for non-LARC contraceptives, such as the contraceptive pill, in this time period. Abortions were examined as a proxy marker for unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, as these could not be reliably measured.

The data was from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a database which contains the anonymised health records of 17 million patients in England, Scotland and Wales from over 600 GP practices.

The study authors stress the research does not show a direct link between the information being provided to women, and the number of LARC prescriptions and abortions – but simply an association. Furthermore, this study looked at outcomes at the population level, and therefore cannot say conclusively that providing a specific individual with information about LARC will result in a reduced likelihood of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Other awareness campaigns and improved access to contraceptive methods might explain the findings, but to a smaller extent.

Part of a longer press release at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/204213/paying-gps-provide-contraception-information-linked/#pressrelease

September 17, 2020

A further 25 charities will receive a share of £1 million boost as part of the government’s £10 million emergency fund – MHCLG Press Release

  • Further 25 domestic abuse charities will receive emergency funding
  • Almost £10 million has now been allocated to 166 charities and service providers
  • Funding to deliver over 1500 additional beds to support more victims and their children

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Kelly Tolhurst MP announced on 16 September 2020 that a further 25 charities will receive a share of £1 million boost as part of the government’s £10 million emergency fund to support domestic abuse victims and their families during the pandemic.

This emergency funding will support those providers facing the most difficulties during the pandemic and help to provide over 1,500 new beds and re-open 344 bed-spaces.

This is part of a wider £76 million package of government support for the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic.

The government remains steadfast in its commitment to tackling domestic abuse. The flagship Domestic Abuse Bill, currently before Parliament, places a new duty on councils to provide safe accommodation for victims and their children in England.

Recognising this need from victims and in close engagement with the sector and the domestic abuse commissioner, MHCLG announced an emergency fund on 7 May to keep services up and running during the pandemic, as well as to open more beds to support more victims and their children.

When the bids were assessed, extra weight was given to applications from organisations providing specialist support, with over a third of those who were successful in their applications were specialist service providers, supporting diverse groups, such as BAME and LGBT victims.

BAME communities sometimes face cultural pressures such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, language barriers and honour-based abuse. Specialist providers tailor support to women and children affected by these issues.

The Domestic Abuse Bill has entered the House of Lords and moves towards Royal Assent later this year. Subject to the successful passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, from April 2021 a new duty will be placed on Tier 1 local authorities to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation in England.

The new legal duty will provide clarity over governance and accountability and put in place a clear framework for needs assessment, commissioning and reporting on outcomes so that all victims of domestic abuse and their children have access to the right support when they need it.

We have already provided £3.7 billion of additional funding to local authorities to relieve pressures on local services and support the most vulnerable including domestic abuse victims.

We encourage services who have extended their provision to engage with their local authority to discuss the available support for the 6 months period between 1 November and 1 April 2021 when the new duty is expected to commence.

In the meantime, there is flexibility for providers into winter as successful bidders will have the option to spend their grant beyond the previous deadline of 31 October 2020, and up to 31 March 2021, provided they gain formal agreement from the Department.

Government recognises the need for victims from minority groups and those with complex needs to be able to access specialist support when they need it and as such we have given special consideration to applications for the £10 million fund from services that provide support to particular groups such as, but not limited to, BAME, LGBT and victims with disabilities.

  • A public awareness campaign #YouAreNotAlone was launched highlighting sources of support and that anyone is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge.
  • Based on Women’s Aid Annual Audit (2020), in the year ending May 2019 there were 3,914 refuge bed spaces in the UK. That’s a 12.5% increase since 2010.
  • If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then either press 55 on a mobile when prompted or wait on a landline and you will be connected to a police call handler who will be able to assist you without you having to speak.
  • We have published guidance for those in danger of domestic abuse during the pandemic.

Part of a longer press release at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-domestic-abuse-charities-to-benefit-from-government-funding-boost-1

The outcome of the final cycle of the rolling fund

Lead Organisation Amount Awarded
Amadudu Women’s Refuge £ 7,212
Anah Project Ltd £ 19,304
Connexus Housing Limited £ 20,934
Contento Social Homes Cic £ 82,508
Croxteth & Gillmoss Community Federation £ 92,181
Hestia Housing and Support £ 7,036
London Black Women’s Project Limited £ 15,700
Newark Women’s Aid £ 9,280
Oasis Domestic Abuse Service Ltd £ 96,315
Pennine Domestic Abuse Parnership Ltd £ 9,888
Roshni (Birmingham) £ 6,235
Rotherham Rise £ 80,000
Safer Places £ 29,345
Saheli £ 35,760
Salford Women’s Aid £ 42,596
Stroud Beresford Limited £ 24,715
The Big Help Project £ 201,880
The Dash Charity £ 15,938
The You Trust £ 19,900
Women Acting In Today’s Society (W.A.I.T.S) £ 36,756
Worthing Women’s Aid £ 41,966
Wycombe Women’s Aid Ltd £ 25,246
Your Housing Group Limited £ 20,512
Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan Trust £ 30,000
Total £ 971,207

See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/915947/MHCLG_10m_DA_Emergency_Fund_Final_Outcome.pdf


September 17, 2020

10 December 2020 ~ Equally Safe: A consultation on challenging men’s demand for prostitution, working to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and helping women to exit – Scottish Government Consultation – Closes


Prostitution is a form of commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation persists as a result of how women are viewed by society.

The Scottish Government’s definition of gender based violence is clearly set out in Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls:

“Gender based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as ‘gender based’ this definition highlights the need to understand violence within the context of women’s and girl’s subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence women’s vulnerability to violence”

Equally Safe Priority 4 states the Scottish Government’s priority to ensure men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response. This violence includes the violence perpetrated by men in relation to acts of commercial sexual exploitation, of which prostitution is one aspect.

The consultation is being taken forward under Equally Safe and fulfils the 2019-20 Programme for Government commitment to consult on approaches to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, continue to support work to reduce the harms associated with commercial sexual exploitation and help women to exit prostitution.

Why We Are Consulting

The aim of the consultation is to gather views on how best to challenge men’s demand for prostitution in Scotland, reducing the harms associated with prostitution and supporting women involved to exit. The consultation paper invites views from a wide range of readers including key stakeholders, statutory partners, those who work in the sector to challenge men’s demand for prostitution, support women and those who may have lived experience to help inform the development of future approaches to prostitution in Scotland.

Give us your views online @ https://consult.gov.scot/violence-against-women-team/equally-safe-reduce-harms-associated-prostitution/

September 11, 2020