TUC slams ‘most female-unfriendly government in living memory’

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will warn today that the coalition government is the ‘most female-unfriendly in living memory’ when he addresses delegates at the TUC Women’s Conference.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will warn today that the coalition government is the ‘most female-unfriendly in living memory’ when he addresses delegates at the TUC Women’s Conference.

A TUC report to the Women’s Conference, also published today, highlights the employment challenges currently facing women.

The report says that with many thousands of skilled professional women in the public sector set to lose their jobs, the concentration of female private sector employment in low-skilled and poorly paid sectors poses a big challenge to their pay and career prospects.

It states that, despite decades of progress, women’s employment in the private sector remains concentrated around the five ‘cs’ – caring, catering, cashiering, cleaning and clerical work. As a result the gender pay gap for women working full time is twice as high in the private sector (18.4 per cent) as it is in the public sector (9.2 per cent).

It cites Government figures which show that half of all women working in the private sector earn less than £15,000 a year, compared to less than one in five men.

Better access to high quality, well paid, and skilled part-time work in the private sector would help more women into better paid management positions and could help tackle the skills shortages that many companies report despite high levels of unemployment, the TUC says.

Speaking at the TUC Women’s Conference, Brendan Barber will say: ‘This is not just about a jobs crisis. Women are twice as likely to be affected by the cuts as men. Child benefit and tax credits are being sacrificed as ministers look for ways to cut the tax rate for people earning more than £150,000, even though they get more in tax breaks than most women earn in a year. Women are being disproportionately hit by the pay freezes, pension reforms and massive jobs cull in the public sector. Basic employment rights are under threat and refuges for victims of domestic violence are being closed. The evidence is clear: this is the most female-unfriendly government in living memory.’

Child benefit and pension credits
The TUC is also highlighting research it says shows that just over 350,000 parents, the majority of whom are likely to be women, could lose vital national insurance credits towards their state pension if child benefit is withdrawn for higher rate taxpayers.

Recipients of child benefit currently receive credits towards their state pension if they are caring full-time and not in work. These credits, available until a child is 12, ensure that caring and parenting is fully recognised in the state pension system.

Economist Howard Reed analysed official government statistics for the TUC and found that there are 351,000 families with children under 12 in which one person is earning over the higher rate tax threshold and the other is either not working (288,000 parents) or earning below the lower earnings limit (£102 per week) needed to receive national insurance contributions (63,000 parents).

The TUC says these stay-at-home or low earner parents, whose partner pays higher rate tax, risk losing their state pension credits along with their child benefit.





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