Osborne’s recovery is an illusion, women still feel the pinch

Women’s Budget Group press release on the Autumn Financial Statementwomen & economic recovery cartoon

George Osborne claims Britain’s economy is on the up, but people are still struggling to cope with low wages, a rising cost of living, and a dramatic decrease in social security. Women are feeling the pinch more than most, and the Autumn Financial Statement does little to alleviate the pain.

Women’s unemployment has fallen by less than 4% since 2011, half as fast as men’s (9%). Real earnings are not recovering; instead they have continued to fall for both men (0.4 % for gross hourly earnings) and for women 0.7%. Progress on closing the gender pay gap has also stalled.

Yet again the Chancellor has focussed only on investment in physical infrastructure and said nothing about investing in care services for children, elderly, and disabled people. Making long-term plans investment in social infrastructure is just as important for the long-term health of the country. The cuts in spending continue with a further £3 billion over the next three years.

The £700m given away on the married couples tax allowance would be better spent on elsewhere. Only 18% of families with children will benefit from this measure. This money will go to the higher earner, the vast majority of whom are men, which will worsen income inequality within married couples.

Professor Diane Elson, chair of the Women’s Budget Group, said: “The chancellor talks of recovery but it to doesn’t feel like it to most people with real earnings still falling. The Autumn Financial Statement does nothing to ensure a recovery that supports gender equality”

The WBG’s Sue Himmelweit said: “Transferable Tax Allowances are a bad idea and we concerned to hear the Chancellor plans to build on them. Money given away on the married couples tax allowance would be better spent on real social priorities. One of these would be to extend help with unaffordable childcare costs to the lowest earners among families on Universal Credit, a measure that would cost just £200m.”



For further comment, please contact:

Sue Himmelweit : 07963951333

Jerome De Henua: 07860556254

The Women’s Budget Group is a network of over 200 academics and activists. For more information, please visit www.wbg.org.uk or contact Amy Watson (admin@wbg.org.uk) WBG Coordinator

NOTE: An in-depth analysis of the impact of the Transferable Tax Allowances will be published by Women’s Budget Group on Saturday 7th December 2013.

Plan F – economic recovery for gender equality

tweet womens roomToday, the organisation I work for – the Women’s Budget Group released a briefing outlining how austerity in the UK is hitting women harder than men. Though there are signs of economic recovery they are not yet apparent in the lives of real women. The briefing outlines what is needed to make recovery benefit men and women – plan f.

The briefing was also covered by the Observer and was timed with the Labour Party Conference in Brighton where they were also discussing of the economy. I was delighted to be invited by Caroline Criado-Perez to guest tweet for the Women’s Room on this subject. The conversation was fascinating we covered free school meals (one of Ed Milliband’s announcements today), child care, unconditional basic income, investing in social housing and making social housing accessible, apprenticeships and much, much more.

Come join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #planf, look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Bad news for most: The Chancellor’s spending review holds little hope for women

I was delighted to have this article posted on the TUC’s Touchstone blog on 02/07/2013.

Bad news for most: The Chancellor’s spending review holds little hope for women

Last week members of the Women’s Budget Group met to watch and discuss the Chancellor’s spending review for 2015 – 2016. Predictably it held few surprises: more cuts, more austerity and a few titbits to keep the voting public happy in advance of the 2015 election.

Of course there was some good news – the budget for the NHS remains safe from cuts and overseas development spending continues to be set at 0.7% of GDP. For every public sector job that has been lost, three private sector jobs have been created, and the Chancellor also announced a huge investment in physical infrastructure – roads, rail and nuclear power stations. Which has got to be good, right?

Well not quite.

The Chancellor’s ‘good news’ announcements cover up a multitude of sins. Again we see local authorities bearing the brunt of the cuts with their budgets being slashed by a further 10%. Local Governments provide essential services to women and women’s organisations. Successful programmes like Sure Start now have a future as uncertain as the children they support.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport faces a cut of 7% but many of us balked when Osborne announced that ‘elite sport’ would be protected whilst many local sports clubs face cuts or even closure.  All of these reductions take place whilst the Chancellor has somehow found enough money to protect the defence budget.

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