AFS 2016: Full response from the Women’s Budget Group
Theresa May became Prime Minister in the wake of the EU referendum which had revealed a deeply divided country. She pledged to build a country and economy that ‘works for everyone’, and the Chancellor affirmed those aspirations in his Autumn Statement address.
In its comprehensive assessment, the Women’s Budget Group argues that the Autumn Statement is a missed opportunity to begin that task.
Key findings of the analysis include:
- Women and those on low incomes continue to shoulder by far the greatest burden of tax and benefit changes and cuts to public spending since 2010, with black and minority ethnic women facing a triple disadvantage. The measures announced in this Autumn Statement, including the reduction in the UC taper rate, are insignificant when set against the backdrop of these cuts. By 2020, Black women in the poorest third of households stand to lose £1,926 a year as a result of tax and benefit changes since 2010. Asian women will lose £2057 a year. In contrast white men in the richest third of the population will gain £79 a year. Lone mothers are set to lose £3860 in net income and £4860 in the value of services they receive, a loss of 18% of their living standards per annum by 2020.
- Social care is in crisis, failing those in need of care and those who provide it, whether paid or unpaid. There are approximately 1.86m people over the age of 50 in England (1 in 10) with unmet care needs; most of them are women. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor had an opportunity to use his infrastructure investment to deliver a new settlement for care. This investment in the social infrastructure would not only, as the Women’s Budget Group has shown, provide for unmet care needs but deliver economic returns that exceed those from comparable investment in construction.
- Alongside social care, health and school budgets are under pressure from rising demand and inflationary pressures. In real terms, per pupil school funding is set to fall by the greatest amount of any Parliament since data began and the Health Service is struggling to meet growing demands for which insufficient funding has been provided. This impacts on the quality of education and health services and puts pressure on the mainly female workforce and, again, the Autumn Statement did not provide a comprehensive response to these challenges.
- The Treasury and Chancellor again failed to provide an adequate assessment of how the Autumn Statement impacts on different groups. Such analysis must be an essential component of the decision-making process when setting policies that aim to build a country that ‘works for everyone’.
Image source: BBC News