Our statement on the Budget: men’s jobs treated as investment; women’s jobs treated as expenses
Wednesday’s budget overlooked the millions of women and families relying on public sector services. Increasing the tax-free threshold and minimum wage may put more money in the pockets of individuals. But squeezing public spending means further cuts in the jobs, benefits and critical services that so many women rely on.
The Chancellor was not clear where he will make the next £3.5 billion in public spending cuts, but it is expected they will continue to disproportionately affect women who make up two-thirds of public service workers.
More women than men rely on benefits and services - to weather the gender pay gap or support their families. With tax credits and child benefits already frozen, women across the UK are struggling to live within their means. And it will fall on women to replace many of the public services that are lost, such as the millions more who will become unpaid carers for disabled relatives no longer be able to rely on Personal Independence Payments.
And just as women’s livelihoods are being threatened, the government plans to bring forward capital spending in order to invest in high-speed railway lines and underground tunnels.
“This is typical of how governments deal with financial crises,” said Halla Gunnarsdottir, Head of Policy at the Women’s Equality Party. “First men’s unemployment goes up and then there are endless ideas for national infrastructure projects to get men back into work, while women are sent home, often long term.”
“The problem is that ‘men’s jobs’ are seen as investment, while women’s are seen as expenses. In a more equal economy, where jobs and caring responsibilities arenot determined by your gender, decisions about whereto invest might be different.”
The Chancellor’s announcements come one week after the Women’s Budget Group found that investing 2 per cent of GDP in care would create twice as many jobs as the same investment in construction.
“It is a matter of priorities,” said Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party and London Mayoral candidate. “Whether we are in a period of prosperity or austerity, women are always first in the firing line. That is why the Women’s Equality Party is calling for gender budgeting - so that everyone can see the real impact of these decisions and decide what’s fair.”
Published March 17, 2016