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Implications of austerity on LGBT people in public services

Researchers: Martin Mitchell
Published: December 2013


To provide insight into how reductions in public spending may be affecting LGBT people who are service providers and LGBT service users.

This study will inform UNISON’s evidence base.    

You can download the full report or a executive summary.

UNISON is one of Britain’s largest public service unions and funded this study from its General Political Fund. 


The effects were varied but there was a feeling that progress on challenging discrimination was being reversed and that homophobia and transphobia were on the rise again.

People expressed a view that LGBT needs and concerns were seen by policy makers and service providers a ‘nice thing to do’ that could be dropped in harder times.

Otherwise  at a personal level there was: 

  • financial hardship from redundancies, real term pay cuts and changes to benefit rules.
  • problems finding accommodation where LGBT could feel safe.
  • a reduction in sexual health and mental health services that addressed their specific needs.
  • greater feelings of marginalisation and invisibility as specialist LGBT services and support disappeared.

At a service level there was the view that:

  • public funding for LGBT services was more important because prejudice from some members of the public made funding through charities less likely.
  • attempts to keep services going by restructuring and efficiencies was unsustainable in the long term because of negative effects on staff and quality of service delivery.


We used a qualitative two-part approach that involved:

101 written submissions from LGBT service users and providers of services to LGBT people to six open questions via a secure website.

12 follow up telephone interviews. 

Full report

Executive summary