Open Letter on Chwarae Teg from the Cross-Party Group on Women highlights grave concerns
On 22nd September we organised a meeting for the Cross-Party Group on Women in our position as Secretariat. As a result of discussions at the meeting, it was decided that the Chair, Sian Gwenllian MS, would send an open letter to the Minister for Social Justice on behalf of the CPG regarding the recent announcement of Chwarae Teg’s closure. That letter is published here.
On behalf of the Cross-Party Group on Women, I am writing to express our collective concern regarding the recent closure of Chwarae Teg and the profound impact it will have on women in Wales. Our meeting on 22 September 2023 was overshadowed by this disheartening news, prompting members to express their sadness and disappointment, to share their sympathies for the dedicated staff at Chwarae Teg, and to raise significant concern for the future of the women’s sector in Wales, given the prevailing financial pressures.
We are aware that the issue has previously been raised in plenary with the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, where Senedd Members urged the Welsh Government to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the closure’s ramifications on women in Wales. We welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment to work with partners to identify the best way work can be continued so it does not leave a gap and to explore the wider impact of post-EU funding challenges on the third sector in Wales. However, we would like to add to this several further concerns that members of the Cross-Party Group on Women raised at our most recent meeting:
- The impact on fiscal policy and budgetary scrutiny: Members highlighted Chwarae Teg’s pivotal role in research, policy development and campaigning on fiscal matters, including budgetary scrutiny and as incubator to the Welsh Women’s Budget Group. The closure of Chwarae Teg leaves a significant gap in this area, at a time when the major impacts of inflation and rising costs of living make a gendered analysis of fiscal policy and the promoting of gender-responsive budgeting more important than ever.
- The closure of Chwarae Teg reflects unique financial challenges facing the women’s sector in Wales: In 2021, only 1.8% of the £4.1 billion grants awarded to charities in the UK went to women and girls focussed activity, with one third of these grants awarded to organisations with no specific focus on women and girls. Third sector representatives in our Group highlighted that these challenges are often amplified for women’s organisations operating in Wales due to a lack of understanding of devolution by grant-making bodies. This leaves the women’s sector in Wales facing a double obstacle when seeking to access and diversify funding streams, with potentially devastating impacts on the future of their work in the current economic climate.
- The wider impact on the third sector and its workforce: Members noted that the closure of Chwarae Teg exacerbates recent losses of capacity within the third sector, which plays an indispensable role in scrutinising policies and advocating for the most disadvantaged in our society. They also emphasised that the workforce in this sector is predominantly female and highlighted the need to apply a gendered lens to the job losses that we are seeing in the sector’s transition to post-Brexit funding streams.
In light of these grave concerns, we would be grateful for the opportunity to arrange a meeting between yourself and a delegation of the Cross-Party Group on Women, to explore what action the Welsh Government is taking to mitigate the impact of Chwarae Teg’s closure on its ambition for Wales to be a world leader in gender equality, and what considerations it has given to the sustainability of the women’s sector in Wales.
Please contact my office to arrange a suitable date for a meeting.
Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.
We look forward to your response.
Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Women