May’s manifesto spells further economic hardship for women
Published 18 May 2017
Theresa May’s manifesto misses a vital opportunity to invest in social care as a means to boost the economy and signposts more years of economic hardship for women in particular, said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party today.
“By the end of this decade women will have paid £86 of every £100 of government savings since 2010. Innovative investment in the social infrastructure of this country could have turned that trend around but instead Theresa May has laid out a manifesto that will drive further inequality,” Walker said.
The Women’s Equality Party has pledged to double the investment fund and allocate half of it – pound by pound – to building up social infrastructure and a caring economy.
“Investing in care creates twice the jobs as investment in construction,” said Walker. “The truth is, if Theresa May had a better plan for the economy, there would be no need to scrap the triple lock on pensions or to fundamentally change our social care system by making some pensioners pay for their own care. These proposals have not been thought through and the impact on women has not been considered.”
Walker welcomed the Tory commitment to close the gender pay gap but criticised its lack of tangible policies. “May says she will ‘work for parity’ in the number of public appointments going to women, ‘push for an increase’ in the number of women on boards and ‘take steps’ to improve take-up of paternity leave. There is not one word about how she will achieve this,” Walker said.
The Conservative’s failure to invest in affordable childcare showed a failure to understand the daily reality of families in the UK, Walker added. Last week, the Women’s Equality Party hand-delivered their manifesto to the Conservative Party headquarters, encouraging them to steal policies for free childcare and shared parental leave that form a blueprint for a gender-equal UK.
“This could not have been any easier for the Conservatives, WE had already done the work and provided them with fully-funded policies that will boost the economy and liberate women. Our parental leave policy includes a three months use-it-or-lose-it proportion for fathers that levels the playing field at work and is the single best tool – along with universal childcare – for closing the gender pay gap.”
Walker added that May’s lack of commitment on childcare was deeply disappointing. “May is recycling the Tory promise of 30 hours’ free childcare for three- and four-year-olds, but focusing only on working parents ‘who find it difficult to manage the costs of childcare’. This policy has been aggressively underfunded and has led to nurseries closing their doors. Good quality childcare demands investment.”
“WE have demonstrated how this can be done. Our offer is 40 hours of free childcare, 48 weeks of the year, for all children from the end of shared parental leave until they start school. This is a policy that works,” Walker said.
The manifesto’s lack of any action to tackle violence against women was another startling miss, Walker said.
“What is most shockingly absent from May’s manifesto is a commitment to the government strategy on ending all forms of violence against women and girls. There is no mention in her manifesto on the gendered reality of domestic violence and sexual abuse, something the Conservatives have otherwise acknowledged. This is deeply disappointing.”