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?