women's budget group
Women earn less than men, have lower incomes over a lifetime and are more likely to be poor in old age
It is not clear whether any of the parties are proposing to make up for cuts in local funding for existing services, still less ensure that services are available to meet the needs of all women including in parts of the country where there are currently few services. The Government itself admits that violence against women costs society around £40billion a year.
Unlike the other parties the Conservative manifesto contains no proposals for changes to working age benefits or tax credits. Universal credit will continue to be rolled out on current plans. There are no plans to reverse any of the changes to benefits that have had, or will have, a particular impact on women.
Strangely, although the Chancellor made several mentions of the fact that the budget was happening on International Women's Day budget, he didn't claim the social care spending as evidence that this was a budget for women. But this was certainly one of the most significant announcements for women in this budget... At the same time the Treasury has chosen to make a series of tax cuts, which will cost the UK £41billion a year by 2020, more than the £37billion a year saved from social security cuts. Most of those who will benefit from tax cuts are men, so this has been a policy of transferring money from the purses of poorer women into the wallets of richer men.
"We've just found out that the funding for our project will end next year, the demand is still there, but it is EU funding, so..." I was in Coventry interviewing the director of a women's organisation providing health, education and employment programmes for women in one of the poorest wards in the City. We were talking about the effects of austerity, but as so often in my interviews that day, it soon became clear that the problems caused by cuts to national and local funding were exacerbated by the impact of Brexit.
The Government has an obligation under the Public Sector Equality Duty to have due regard to the impact of its policies on equality. But they've not exactly been keen to make that a reality... The Treasury refused to send a Minister to answer the Committee's questions about equality impact, saying that individual Government departments were responsible for doing this analysis... do they have something to hide?
According to an ICM poll for the Fawcett Society, women are more than twice as likely to be undecided as to how they will vote on June 23rd. They are also less likely to state that either the 'Leave' or 'Remain' camp has addressed their concerns... One thing is clear, the public debate could benefit from a greater diversity of voices.
The Chancellor has cut taxes for corporations and lifted the threshold for the 40p income tax - both measures that will predominantly benefit men - while making cuts to essential services and to benefits for people with disabilities.