The Fawcett Society report out today has found that the financial security and human rights of women are under the biggest threat ” in living memory” according to a Guardian article today. The coalition governments policies disproportionately affect women. As the Fawcett Society says:
” On average, women earn less, own less, and are more likely to work and retire in poverty than men. The government’s approach to cutting the deficit will widen the gap between women and men: Female unemployment is rising as jobs are cut in public service -The benefits and services women rely on more are being slashed -Women on low incomes are becoming poorer -The pay gap looks set to widen -Women’s access to vital support services is being undermined -Increasing numbers of women are being forced to give up work as cuts to childcare support means their jobs no longer cover the family’s care costs.”
Child Poverty Action Group further highlights the issue that Universal Credit, unlike Child Tax Credit, will go to the main earner – for many non working mums like myself Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit is the only money they have direct control over as currently these benefits are usually paid to the mother. Child Poverty Action Group says:
“…. the most concerning design flaw that the Government must tackle… Payments in tax credits that are specifically for children’s needs and childcare currently go to the parent with care, usually the mother, but in the Universal Credit will be paid to the main earner because of the IT system. This transfer of thousands of pounds per family ‘from the purse to the wallet’ will threaten allocation within household budgets to meet children’s needs.”
“We cannot have an IT glitch driving a change that will turn back the clock on women sharing in control of the household budget and may lead to less spending on children’s needs. A firm commitment is needed from government that a solution will be found.”
In some households the relationship may not be stable or the working partner may have issues – drinking, gambling, or may simply be bad at money management – which may mean that money never finds its way to the mother to meet the needs of the children.
And if this were not enough, changes under Universal Credit place a huge barrier in the way of women who might want to start self employment. Under the new rules claimants will be treated as having earned the minimum wage for the number of working hours declared when their entitlement is calculated – anyone who has started a business knows that taking minimum wage in the early years can be a tall order. How many talented women who want to start a business (myself included) will be put off because of the fear that they will lose their much needed tax credit and that in the short to medium term their children will suffer.
Universal Credit is due be introduced in 2013 – there is still take to make our voices heard – the clock must not be wound back and we must join together to fight for womens financial freedom and equality.
The changes I have outlined in this post are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the detriment of the position of women in this country – Sure Start Centres are being mothballed, funding for services which help women who are victims of domestic violence are being seen a an “easy cut” by councils” – the list goes on …
The Fawcett Society is holding a Day of Action on Saturday 19th November. Join the march in London (with a fifties dress up theme) or hold a tea party to show your support.
You can also add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile or Facebook page here.
I hope that more mum bloggers and websites for mums such as Mumsnet will highlight these vital issues over the coming months.