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Autumn Statement bad news for women


And research says 81 per cent of benefit and tax credit cuts come from women.

In 5 December’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced cuts to benefits, tax credits and tax changes, which will save the Treasury £1.06bn.

But according to research, commissioned by Shadow Equalities Minister Yvette Cooper, 81 per cent of these savings, or £867 million, will come from women.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children explained: “What seems to be happening is there’s a transference of targeting – from benefits which had gone primarily to women with children, to targeting personal allowance changes which are for everyone.”

So while most working people will welcome the extra £235 a year from an increase in their basic tax allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Statutory Maternity and Adoption pay, housing benefit and out of work benefits like Jobseekers Allowance will only increase by 1 per cent a year from April 2013, a real-terms cut of 1.7 – 2.2 per cent a year, if inflation remains at its current levels.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizen’s Advice, said: “The government can’t keep hitting the same people over and over again.

“Let’s not forget, below inflation benefit increases will not just hit people who are out of work. It will also hurt working families in low paid jobs who have already been hit by wage freezes and cuts in working hours.”

And as WVoN reported last week, a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that most working age people in poverty are now in work, rather than unemployed.

Geri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said women had already paid for two thirds of the changes to taxes and welfare since 2010, and women’s unemployment was at a 24-year high.

“The various policies unveiled in the name of growth offer little to support women’s greater participation in the labour market or wider economy.

“While further investment in roads and other big infrastructure projects is welcome, few of the 1.01 million unemployed women will find jobs as a result.”

“Women will continue to act as shock absorbers for the cuts,” she added.

“It’s vital the forthcoming Spending Review considers the differing impact these measures will have on women and men.

“In particular government will need to go further than just a household income level impact analysis if they are to gauge the likely impact of their policies on every day women’s lives in any meaningful way.

“At the same time, keeping public sector pay rises at below inflation levels – a real terms pay cut – will also affect women disproportionately, as they make up the bulk of the public sector workforce.”

Yvette Cooper believes that this has come about because there are now so few women at the top of government.

“This is the problem with having so few women in the cabinet, nobody asks the question,” she said.

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