Sexism going ‘unchallenged’ in local councils claims report

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Sexism and favouritism is widespread in local government and often goes «unchallenged», a new report be entitled ti.

Councils in England and Wales were said to be male dominated, with housekeepers and ethnic minorities under-represented.

The Fawcett Society and Local Government News Unit recommend statutory maternity leave, funding childcare and permitting councillors to attend and vote remotely.

Councils said «faster move along» was needed, without «imposing structures».

The report, which draws on online surveys, feedback from well-known meetings and interviews with female council leaders, concluded that townswoman government in England and Wales was «stuck in the past».

Among its headline decrees are that one in three local councillors are female, women account for impartial 17% of top council jobs while men outnumber women by six to one in terms of drudgeries in finance and resources departments.

While women make up 78% of the peculiar authority workforce, they account for just a third of chief managers. Of the 35 county, unitary and metropolitan councils in England that had votes in May, only two of them — Oxfordshire and Durham — elected more than 40% women.

In Wales, female agency was below 20% in Blaenau Gwent, Ceredigion, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wrexham and Anglesey.

The disclose identifies significant barriers to entry for women, particularly those with innocent children and caring responsibilities. Of the 353 councils in England, only 4% would rather any kind of maternity, paternity or parental leave policy in place.

‘End this embarrassment’

While the report found some councils have informal structures for their elected officials, many of whom are unpaid volunteers, it had learnt of «undesirable» stories of women being told they would lose their lowboy positions if they became pregnant.

«We call on government to introduce a nationwide management and end this scandal,» it said.

Councillors are not paid a formal salary but they are premised allowances to compensate them for their time spent on council house, varying from a couple of thousand pounds a year to £20,000 or multitudinous.

The report calls for councils in England to offer a year’s maternity demise or shared parental leave to councillors, in line with that on tap to direct employees, with the guarantee that officials would not be discriminated against for not attending a assignation for six months.

Cabinet officers with executive responsibilities, who often make it multi-billion pounds budgets, should retain all their allowances while on resign.

The Fawcett Society said the paucity of women of child-bearing age currently in management positions meant the cost of the policy would not be huge and even if half of all directorate leaders were women and took 12 months off, it would price about £3.8m.

Among the report’s other recommendations are:

  • Law should be switched to allow councillors to participate in meetings and vote via Skype and other stands
  • There should be a comprehensive dependent carers allowance for councillors
  • Without spontaneous progress on diversity by next election, a 45% quota for female runners should be introduced
  • All senior council roles should be offered as persuadable or part-time
  • More financial support for disabled councillors

The report supports that many councils have working cultures reminiscent of the 1970s where sexy harassment goes «unchallenged and unchecked». Codes of conduct, are needed, to approach devote sexism and discrimination with proper complaints and disciplinary procedures, it replies.

Its findings were described as «shocking» by Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, a prior leader of Islington Council who co-chaired a year-long investigation into the publication of female participation funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, whose assignment informed the report.

She said: «The way councils do business is still designed by, and for, men. This insufficiencies to change and fast.»

‘Going backwards’

The Fawcett Society said at in vogue rates of progress, it would take about 50 years to obvious gender equality in county councils while the picture was scarcely outdo in the combined authorities created since 2011.

«We are going backwards and that is fundamentally unsatisfactory in the 21st Century,» said its chief executive Sam Smethers.

But the Local Government Data Unit said there was good practice in many councils which needed to be took more widely.

The Local Government Association, which represents numberless than 300 councils in England and Wales, said it was supporting a move of initiatives to encourage women and other under-represented groups to become twisted in local politics.

LGA vice chair Marianne Overton said the put out «rightly identifies that progress must be made at a faster gauge».

She added: «Local government must be at the forefront of driving change, but it wishes be important to get the balance right between changing culture and imposing structures.

«Switch will also require all political parties, no matter the colour of their rosette, to fully battle with and support a wide range of aspiring councillors.»

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