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 inregards to women’s equality. BUT, we’re still a hell of a long way from fullgender equality.
PAY GAP, WHAT PAY GAP?
Forget the gender pay gap, according to the World EconomicForum, 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 austerityhas not only completely fucked the most vulnerable in our society, but how it isalso gendered.
Some might argue that austerity affects both men and womenalike and they’d be right – it does. But not equally.
Conservative welfare reforms and cuts to budgets since 2010have disproportionately affected women i.e. women have been worse off or harderhit than their male counterparts.
It’s estimated that women are shouldering 86% of the austerityburden. In money terms, £22 million of £26 million savings since June 2010 havecome 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 andless skilled jobs than men
- PAY GAP!!!!
- Women use more public services than men AND are themajority 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 menbecause women are more likely to be single parents and unemployed as a resultof parental or caring responsibilities.
Even when employed, women are more likely to be in poverty becauseit is low paid, insecure or part time work.
ARE ALL WOMEN AFFECTED THE SAME?
Women as a collective are unfairly impacted by austerityhowever white women are a hell of a lot better off than their black and ethnicminority (BAME) counterparts.
This is due to institutional (and societal) racism impactingjob and educational opportunities for BAME people in general, but women inparticular. BAME households are also more likely to be living in poverty thanwhite 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 alsoimpact how much women are affected by austerity – so if you throw a few ofthese 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. Womenare also more likely to have grown up children come back to live them, thus, thespare 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 mustprove this to the Department for Working Pensions.
Given the low conviction rates for rape (less than a thirdof men prosecuted in the UK are actually convicted) and women’s reluctance toreport it due to such shitty conviction rates, why on earth would women want totell 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 shouldbe entitled to.
Now for the biggie, UNIVERSAL CREDIT.
It’s been criticised by charities, human rightsorganisations, MPs and even the National Audit Office.
The reform has led to an increase in foodbank use in areasit has been rolled out.
There has been up to 6 week delays in people receiving thebenefit which as forced many into rent arrears and even eviction.
The reform itself in theory wasn’t a bad one – it essentiallyrolls several benefits into one monthly payment which is meant to resemble aworking 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 toearn less than men… You guessed it, the monthly payment is likely to go to theman of the house (honestly I’m forgetting its 2019, not 1950).
The payment cannot be split. It is automatically paid intothe highest earners account – no questions asked.
This assumes that every household will have equal access tothat account. This isn’t true.
For a woman in an abusive relationship, financialindependence is often the only way out. Taking away that independence, like theTories have, is likely to further entrap her in an abusive relationship.
Now, there’s been some talk of splitting payments – that’s whatthe 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 threateningfor 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 solelyto 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 losearound £940 a year compared to £460 for men.
The full roll out of Universal Credit has been suspended dueto the amount of criticism it has received, however it is incredibly likely itwill 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 governmenthas implemented austerity policies that specifically target women is terrifying.
It is also a violation of their obligations under variousinternational treaties including the UN Convention on the Elimination of AllForms of Discrimination Against Women (or CEDAW) and the UK’s own Equality Act.
As always, and forever, Up The Tories xo