Budget Day in the UK – not a good day for women
For those of our readers who don’t live in the UK, you may not know that yesterday was a significant day for us.
Budget Day is when the Chancellor of the Exchequer (as he’s called and it is always a “he”) gets to tell us how much money we’re going to pay him over the next year.
Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. He gets to tell the working and middle classes what we’re going to pay. The rich seem to operate under a different system altogether.
So who are the winners and losers this year?
You won’t be surprised to learn that women are among the biggest losers.
As the Fawcett Society (a charity that campaigns for equality between women and men) points out, unemployment among women is already at its highest for the last 20 years.
And it’s set to rise still further when more public sector cuts kick in.
On 1 April, what Fawcett describes as the deepest and most severe spending cuts peacetime Britain has ever seen will start to bite – child benefit will be frozen, housing benefit capped,maternity payments scrapped and the value of benefits and tax credits reduced.
Anna Bird, Fawcett’s acting chief executive said: ““Against this backdrop, [yesterday's] budget was an opportunity to present a credible growth plan which includes consideration of how to enable women to take up new jobs in the private sector, through measures to tackle the private sector pay gap and promote family-friendly jobs which reflect the needs of a modern workforce.
“Instead, it is set to make working life more difficult for many women”.
Not only are women the biggest losers under the public sector cuts, they are also most likely to be affected by the government’s plans to review regulations that “burden” business.
As Bird says: “Cutting red tape can all too easily mean scaling back on equality.
“Depicting all regulation as bad for business and bad for growth misses the point; improved employment rights have enabled the huge increase in women entering and staying in the workforce over the past thirty years.
“As more women face an uncertain future, we should be mindful of the fact that a healthy labour market cannot exist if women are not enabled to take their rightful part in it.”
A point taken up this morning by Zoe Williams in the Guardian who accuses our Chancellor of getting rid of any regulations he can think of that sound “like something they might do in Scandanavia”.
A country where equality seems to matter, unlike here.
So well done to those magnificent women who yesterday chained themselves together outside the security gates of Downing Street (where the Chancellor lives) in protest at the devastating impact of the budget on the lives of women (see Daily Mail).