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31 Jan 2018

Austerity impacts women unfairly; the government must be held to account


Today I'm at the Unite Women's Conference. I moved this motion which was carried unanimously.

Demand for Gender Impact Audit of Government Tax and Spending Policies.

This conference is concerned that 86% of the burden of government austerity policies since 2010 has fallen on women.

Conference notes that the latest research carried out by the House of Commons Library reveals that this figure has remained unchanged for the last 2 years.

Conference further notes that women are paying a huge price for this failed government policy.

Conference resolves to campaign to to highlight this issue from within Unite, the TUC and the Labour Party.

Conference instructs the Women's National Committee to urge the Executive Council to call on the Labour  Party NEC members to demand a gender impact audit of government tax and spending policies since 2010.

My speech:

Chair, Sisters

Since austerity was imposed upon us by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010 86% of the burden has fallen on women.

Research has shown that the cost to women since 2010 is £79 billion compared to £13 billion borne by men.

We are more likely to use, and work in, the public services that have been cut and been subject to pay freezes. We are more likely to be in receipt of the benefits and tax credits that have been frozen and cut.

Women are more likely to fill that gaps left by austerity by caring, often for free, for children and older people at the detriment to our employment and earnings and let's not forget that women, on average, still earn less than men.

The implementation of Universal Credit is hitting women the hardest. More women than men claim universal credit and  Lone parents of which 90% are women are expected to be on average £2,380 a year worse off.  This year we saw women unable to provide Christmas meals for their families when Universal credit was implemented just before Christmas

Women have also born the brunt of cuts to child tax credit which now will only be paid for the first two children. If you are a low income working family you will get nothing to help if you have more than two children. The government is aiming to find £1.2 billion through this cut while turning a blind eye to tax evasion by some of the highest earning companies in the world.

Inadequate investment in  childcare prevents women, especially single mothers, from entering the labour market. Childcare in the UK is the most expensive in Europe and women often find the money they earn wiped out by childcare costs. The government is doing too little to change this.

Its current pledge of 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 years olds is not enough. It's only available in term time - just 38 weeks a year. Both parents must be in work to receive this free childcare but who can take 14 weeks of a year to plug the gap?

It's also the case that Government funding to childcare settings does not cover costs so they are asking parents to make top up payments for food, nappies and trips. In Reading, we're I live, a local primary school had to write to parents to contribute a pound per pupil per school day to close its budget gap because of negative changes to the schools funding formula. More expense for working parents and women.

Finally we’ve heard from WASPI women who have lost thousands in state pensions to save the Conservative government money so from the cradle to the grave women have been unfairly impacted by austerity.

So sisters I am asking you to support this motion for a campaign to raise awareness of thisdiscrimination within Unite, the TUC and Labour Party.

As the womens conference we will be asking that the Labour Party NEC demand a gender impact audit of government tax and spending policies.

And finally as women we will be asking that the government be held to account for its destructive austerity programme that hurts our sisters the most. 

Conference I move.

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