Budget cuts will fall disproportionately on women

A gender audit shows that more than 70 per cent of revenue raised will come from female taxpayers.

Women will bear the brunt of Budget cuts, according to a new study, with more than 70 per cent of the revenue raised from direct tax and benefit changes to come from female taxpayers.

The figures come from a gender audit of the Budget, commissioned by the shadow welfare secretary, Yvette Cooper, and carried out by the House of Commons library.

The key point is this:

Of nearly £8bn net revenue to be raised by the financial year 2014-15, nearly £6bn will come from women and just over £2bn from men.

This is not just because of family-related policies such as child benefit, although the axing of Sure Start and the health in pregnancy grant were taken into account. Women are more affected by cuts in housing benefit and upratings to the additional pension. Women's income and wealth are lower than men's, so they do not benefit as much from the income-tax allowance.

Women also make up 65 per cent of the public sector, so will be more heavily affected by the pay freeze and pension changes. Job cuts in this area -- expected to reach 600,000 -- will also hit them hardest.

The main thing to remember here is that women and men are not starting from a level playing field. According to the Fawcett Society, women are paid 16.4 per cent less than men for full-time work, and 35 per cent less for part-time work. Cuts that disproportionately affect women to this extent are essentially cuts that hit a disadvantaged group.

Add to this last week's analysis by economists working with the Fabian Society, which showed that the poorest families would be worst hit by the Budget, and a rather depressing picture emerges.

Those figures showed that the poorest 10 per cent of households (earning under £14,200 a year) would suffer a cut equivalent to more than a fifth (21.7 per cent) of their income, while the richest (earning more than £49,700) would experience a cut of just 3.6 per cent.

Are ministers still calling it a progressive Budget?

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.