Statement from Mandu Reid on the government’s mini-budget 2020

Statement from Mandu Reid on the government’s mini-budget 2020

Statement from Mandu Reid on the government’s mini-budget 2020

We are heading towards a recession of colossal magnitude. Women bore the brunt of the austerity regime that followed the 2008 financial crisis, we cannot let history repeat itself. 

The Women’s Equality Party welcomes the scale of Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement today, and the ambition to create a jobs-led recovery to protect young people from the long-term economic impacts of lockdown. However, without specific measures aimed at young women, these interventions risk widening the already existing gulf of inequality between men and women.

Most glaringly, Sunak’s mini-budget completely ignored the context in which this economic crisis has occurred and disregarded the fact that a significant investment in our health-, social- and childcare infrastructure is not only a sensible economic choice but also a crucial measure as we contemplate living with Covid-19 for months or even years to come. As a result, vital recovery measures for women and for the country at large were conspicuously absent. 

Despite the fact that a quarter of this country’s nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are facing imminent collapse (meaning up to 10,000 providers, equating to 250,000 places, could disappear), the government has yet again failed to commit any additional funding or support for the childcare sector. For all the Chancellor’s talk of protecting jobs, childcare providers across the country will be forced to let staff go and parents will be unable to go back to work if this vital sector is left in crisis. And yet there was a deafening silence from both the government and the opposition on childcare today.

Funding for childcare - and for our caring economy more generally - is not a cost but a valuable investment that would boost our economy, not only by creating jobs in the sector but also enabling more parents to go back to work. Wages for care workers are currently so low that we went into the pandemic with 122,000 vacancies in our social care sector, increasing our vulnerability to the virus and contributing to the tragically high death rates we’ve seen in care homes. If we raised care workers wages to the level of construction workers, we would properly recognise the value of this crucial work, insulate our economy against future crises like coronavirus and, according to research by the Women’s Budget Group, create significantly more jobs than we would with the same level of investment in construction. At current wages, an investment in childcare and social care could create two million jobs - 2.7 times as many as would be created with the same investment in construction.

Instead, the Chancellor’s approach to job creation is limited to an investment in apprenticeships, and here too he has failed to acknowledge or address the huge gender inequalities that exist. Women make up 84 percent of health and social care apprenticeships and 93 percent of childcare apprenticeships and men make up 97 percent of construction apprenticeships. Meanwhile, research from the Young Women’s Trust shows that those apprenticeships that are predominantly taken up by women pay significantly less than those mostly taken up by men. Moreover, the failure to support childcare will create a serious barrier to access, preventing many young parents from taking up these opportunities. Meanwhile, many women are left dependent on Universal Credit while job centres remain closed, penalised by the two child limit and falling into poverty. Where is the Chancellor’s recovery plan for women? 

As the furlough scheme approaches a cliff-edge in October and many are faced with the prospect of imminent unemployment, this should have been the time for the government to invest in care, women’s jobs and our country’s long term future. Instead, Sunak mentioned “women” just once, ignored the UK’s social infrastructure and acted as if the economic impacts of this pandemic will be gender neutral. He is wrong.

We are heading towards a recession of colossal magnitude. Women bore the brunt of the austerity regime that followed the 2008 financial crisis, we cannot let history repeat itself. 

We are calling on the government to ensure vital public services are properly resourced, our childcare sector is supported, inequalities are addressed, and secure, well-paid jobs are available for all who want them, including women. We are calling on the government to Build Back Equal. 

Join me and the Women’s Equality Party as we demand better. 

  
        
  

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