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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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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