Women at ‘tipping point’

Women are at a “tipping point” and years of progress could be undermined if the Government pushes ahead with plans for a raft of cuts which affect women most, according to a report by the Fawcett Society.

Women are at a “tipping point” and years of progress could be undermined if the Government pushes ahead with plans for a raft of cuts which affect women most, according to a report by the Fawcett Society.
Its report, The Impact of Austerity on Women, says it is concerned not only with proposals on tax credits and benefit changes and job losses in the public sector where the majority of the workforce is female, but with the cumulative effect of a number of policies which disproportionately affect women.
It says, for instance, that cuts to public services such as elder care and childcare will mean women will ‘pick up the tab’ by default.
The report says: “Withdrawing vital support risks adding to women’s unpaid and informal caring roles and further entrenching the already unequal distribution of labour. The knock-on effect will be to limit women’s opportunities to work and engage fully in public and political life – including in positions of power and influence.”
The report makes a number of recommendations for the Chancellor in his 2012 budget, including reinstating the ringfencing of Sure Start grants, restoring Child Benefit to its previous level plus the value of inflation after the freeze is lifted in 2014, restoring support for childcare costs for low-income families to pre-April 2011 levels through restoring the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit to its previous level of up to 80% in the 2012 budget and providing up to 80% of childcare costs in the new Universal Credit system.
It also calls for urgent action on a number of issues, including ensuring the development and implementation of a strategy for women’s employment and reviewing policy on work, welfare, pensions, health, childcare and justice that considers how the cumulative impact of these policies affects women’s daily lives.
The report welcomes Government plans to raise income tax threshold, freeze the council tax freeze, increase Child Tax Credits for low to middle income families and increase childcare support under the Universal Credit, but says there is “overwhelming evidence” that its overall economic strategy harms women by paying “too little heed of existing inequalities”. It says: “Sadly, the benefit provided by certain measures, celebrated by government as protecting the most vulnerable groups, is undone by the financial penalties and broader implications of the whole package of austerity measures. Women are being hit twice as hard as men, with those who can least afford to bear the brunt – single mothers – on average losing most of all.
“The result? While we have become used to slow but steady progress towards equality between women and men, we have now hit a tipping point. Austerity risks turning back time: fewer women working, more women living in poverty, the gap in women’s and men’s incomes and earnings widening, women’s financial autonomy undermined and women’s basic rights to safety and justice under threat.” *Is it no longer worth it to work or have you increased your hours due to tax credit changes? If so and you want to feature on Workingmums.co.uk, contact Mandy Garner at mandy.garner@workingmums.co.uk.





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