Welcome to the year 2019.
I’m sorry to inform you that the UK government is STILL discriminating against women.
Now, it’s undeniable that in 100 years since women(middle-class white women might I add) got the vote, we have come a long way in regards to women’s equality. BUT, we’re still a hell of a long way from full gender equality.
PAY GAP, WHAT PAY GAP?
Forget the gender pay gap, according to the World Economic Forum, that thing won’t be closed until 2235 – what’s another 217 years?
What I’m here to talk about is how years of Tory austerity has not only completely fucked the most vulnerable in our society, but how it is also gendered.
Some might argue that austerity affects both men and women alike and they’d be right – it does. But not equally.
Conservative welfare reforms and cuts to budgets since 2010 have disproportionately affected women i.e. women have been worse off or harder hit than their male counterparts.
It’s estimated that women are shouldering 86% of the austerity burden. In money terms, £22 million of £26 million savings since June 2010 have come from women.
BUT WHY ARE WOMEN MORE AFFECTED?
Some cold hard facts
- Women make up the majority of single parents in the UK (around 90%)
- Women make up the majority of unpaid carers(58%)
- Women are on average in lower paid, insecure and less skilled jobs than men
- Women use more public services than men AND are the majority of welfare claimants
- Women are the majority of public sectors workers(who have suffered repeated cuts to budgets, job loss and pay freezes)
To put it plainly, women rely on welfare more than men because women are more likely to be single parents and unemployed as a result of parental or caring responsibilities.
Even when employed, women are more likely to be in poverty because it is low paid, insecure or part time work.
ARE ALL WOMEN AFFECTED THE SAME?
Women as a collective are unfairly impacted by austerity however white women are a hell of a lot better off than their black and ethnic minority (BAME) counterparts.
This is due to institutional (and societal) racism impacting job and educational opportunities for BAME people in general, but women in particular. BAME households are also more likely to be living in poverty than white households.
The Women’s Budget Group estimate that by 2020, BAME households with lowest incomes will experience a drop in living standards of around 20% i.e. a loss of income of roughly £9000.
You can read more about this here > https://wbg.org.uk/blog/intersecting-inequalities-impact-austerity-bme-women-uk/
Who said Britain wasn’t racist? (not me)
Other factors such as disability, sexuality and age also impact how much women are affected by austerity – so if you throw a few of these factors in the mix with being a woman, you’re pretty much fucked.
WHAT CUTS AND REFORMS AM I TALKING ABOUT?
There are lots.
Too many to name in what is meant to be a short and snappy blog post about an incredibly complicated and entrenched culture of gender discrimination and a decade of Tory austerity.
But I’ll name the ones I think are the worst offenders.
Bedroom Tax – taxes spare rooms in council housing in England and Wales (Scotland blocked it). How does this impact women?
This put a tax on ‘panic rooms’ for domestic survivors. Women are also more likely to have grown up children come back to live them – the spare room isn’t actually spare but they would still be taxed.
Child Tax Credits – the Tories put a two child cap on this and women wanting to claim for a third child have to meet specific exemptions. One of which is the ‘rape clause’.
If a woman has had a third child as result of rape, she must prove this to the Department for Working Pensions.
Given the low conviction rates for rape (less than a third of men prosecuted in the UK are actually convicted) and women’s reluctance to report it due to such shitty conviction rates, why on earth would women want to tell a stranger in the DWP? And how are they going to prove it?
Note –this also asks women to relive trauma in order to claim a benefit they should be entitled to.
Now for the biggie, UNIVERSAL CREDIT.
It’s been criticised by charities, human rights organisations, MPs and even the National Audit Office.
The reform has led to an increase in foodbank use in area sit has been rolled out.
There has been up to 6 week delays in people receiving the benefit which as forced many into rent arrears and even eviction.
The reform itself in theory wasn’t a bad one – it essentially rolls several benefits into one monthly payment which is meant to resemble a working monthly wage.
HOWEVER. This payment is paid to one person in thehousehold, the highest earner.
Given we have a big fat pay gap and women are more likely to earn less than men… You guessed it, the monthly payment is likely to go to the man of the house (honestly I’m forgetting its 2019, not 1950).
The payment cannot be split. It is automatically paid into the highest earners account – no questions asked.
This assumes that every household will have equal access to that account. This isn’t true.
For a woman in an abusive relationship, financial independence is often the only way out. Taking away that independence, like the Tories have, is likely to further entrap her in an abusive relationship.
Now, there’s been some talk of splitting payments – that’s what the Scottish government have decided. However. This is not an automatic split,the woman would have ask for it.
Even asking for the payment to be split could be life threatening for some women.
The single payment is not reflective of the real world –most households have two earners (the man and the woman) and paying it solely to the highest earner is a throwback to traditional divisions of labour withthe man as the main breadwinner.
On average, under Universal Credit, women are set to lose around £940 a year compared to £460 for men.
The full roll out of Universal Credit has been suspended due to the amount of criticism it has received, however it is incredibly likely it will go ahead with the discriminatory single payment feature.
There’s a hell of a lot more to this than I’ve condensed ina slightly longer than usual post, but this isn’t a topic you can gloss overquickly.
The fact that poverty is so high in Britain is disgusting.
That the government has implemented austerity policies that specifically target women is terrifying.
It is also a violation of their obligations under various international treaties including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (or CEDAW) and the UK’s own Equality Act.
As always, and forever, Up The Tories xo