How fair is this budget?
POSTED IN Blog 13.07.2010
The Lib-Con Government released its first budget last month. This budget set the tone for its term in Parliament and I was interested to see what the new Coalition Government would do to help reduce gender inequalities and help the poorest and most disadvantaged people in this country. We were promised a Government that stood for “freedom, fairness and equality” and a Government devoted to promoting gender equality in the workplace.
Instead what arrived was the emergency Budget, and as weeks of analysis and scrutiny have passed it has become increasingly evident that the promises of equality and fairness outlined in the Queen’s Speech were of less substance than Peter Mandleson’s memoirs.
We already know that this is an incredibly regressive budget with the deepest and most draconian cuts seen since the seventies. However what has emerged this week is how damaging this budget will be to the women of Britain.
A gender audit of the budget headed by Yvette Cooper MP has revealed that of the £8bn in revenue to be made by 2015, £6bn of that will come from women. That’s a massive 75% contribution from the female workforce. This is an absolute joke when you factor in that on average women in full-time work are paid just over 16% less than their male counterparts, and the same goes for women in part time work who receive 35% less than their male colleagues. Yvette also quite rightly stated that the projected 600,000 job losses and proposed 40% public sector cuts will hit women the hardest as women make up a majority of the public sector workforce.
Families will also be severely hit with child tax credits, maternity support, child benefit and child trust funds all being cut. Findings from the report state that 94% of child benefit claimants are women, meaning that in the grand scheme of the budget working mothers will undoubtedly bear the biggest load. This is just a snippet of Yvette’s thoughts on this budget having read the gender audit:
“Even if you put aside cuts in support for children, women are still more heavily hit. Women are more affected by the cuts in things like housing benefit, cuts in upratings to the additional pension, public sector pensions or attendance allowances, and they benefit less than men from the increases in the income tax allowances. Even putting children aside, they are hitting women hardest”.
Women are not the only group to be disproportionately hit by the Coalition Governments new economic regime. Along with working class families, disabled people have also been unfairly targeted with this ridiculous policy of introducing tougher tests for those applying for disability living allowance (DLA). This is clearly just another punitive measure designed to discourage people from even entering the application process and bullying disabled people into work. This is made even more evident by the fact that attendance allowance, the equivalent benefit for carers, has not been tampered with at all.
Danny Alexander has shamelessly denied that the budget disadvantages the most vulnerable in society and described the budget as ‘progressive and fair’. Ridiculous. He should be absolutely ashamed of himself for trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and defending this horrendous budget.
In my time as an MP, I have relentlessly fought for the most vulnerable of people in my constituency for the last 23 years. If those in power are not ready to defend the disadvantaged groups in society then I am ready to ensure that our party will be primed to fill that void come 2015.