We hear a lot about the injustices woman face in modern Britain, not least in the form of the gender pay gap. An IFS report earlier this year captured the spotlight as it spelled it out in cold, hard statistics how the pay gap between men and women grows after having children, leading to stalled career progression. But a story less often told is how women at the bottom end of the labour market are carrying the heavier burden of poverty in our society. Figures released by JRF as part of the BBC's 100 Women highlight this reality. A fifth of women - around 5.1million - live in poverty in the UK, compared to 4.4million men.
The Chancellor has a difficult balancing act to achieve in the Autumn Statement. With projections of weakening public finances, the Government has set two goals; to boost the economy and to help 'JAM's - the 'just about managing'; people in work but struggling to make ends meet.
Suddenly discussions about education are all about whether to increase the role of selection and grammar schools. Last year <a href="https://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/grammar-schools-do-they-really-help-social-mobility" target="_hplink">I called</a> this an unwelcome distraction from the real business of improving educational attainment for children from low income backgrounds across the country. The new row has the potential to be much more damaging.
Our analysis shows that she needs to do this with a comprehensive plan to ensure the country's economic prosperity goes beyond rising employment. It needs better skills, affordable childcare and housing and better pay and security for those who are struggling to get by for us all to feel better off. Otherwise, the post-Brexit gloom may struggle to clear, despite the rise and rise in employment.
Did the Chancellor invest in improving our children's prospects in yesterday's Budget? Kind of. He certainly invested. Over four years he is spending £640 million on turning all schools into academies and moving to a new funding formula, £690 million on longer school days, £490 million on school sports and £80 million to improve attainment in Northern schools. Sadly, the chances of this windfall actually improving education, especially for children from low income backgrounds, is uncertain at best.
18/03/2016 10:14 GMT
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