A chancellor tinkering at the margins: Women’s Budget Group response to Autumn Budget 2017

Dec 1, 2017 | Analysis, Budget Analysis, Main Feature

You can view and download a full version of the Women’s Budget Group’s response to the November 2017 Budget here.

This was a Budget marked by gloomy economic forecasts from the OBR. GDP is now projected to be 2% lower than previously predicted by 2022 and productivity levels continue to grow at a sluggish 0.2% per year.

The Chancellor’s promised to meet the challenges facing the UK  but this was a Budget which did nothing ambitious or significant to address many of the urgent challenges facing the UK, including the crisis in social care, falling real wages, a social security system that is leaving 4 million children in poverty and widespread violence against women and girls.

There was some welcome investment on physical infrastructure including:

–            £44bn for increasing house building. However, despite the lifting of the cap on the Housing Revenue Account for councils in high need areas, it is unclear how much this investment will translate into affordable homes or social housing.

–            £1.7bn for the Transforming Cities Fund, a money pot for local authorities to invest in local transport links.

–            Regional investment on roads, railways and innovative technologies, in a bid to rebalance the UK economy away from London.

However, investment in social infrastructure has been mostly overlooked, with negative consequences for women and the economy as a whole.

–            The NHS will receive £1.96bn in additional revenue funding for 2018/19. However, this falls far short of the £4bn that the King’s Trust, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation have estimated is needed for the national health service to meet its service requirements over the next year.

–            Social care and childcare were not mentioned at all in the Budget, despite being two sectors with severe pressures on their services and large unmet needs in the population, with consequences for women’s unpaid work and their employment opportunities.

Despite some changes to the waiting time for Universal Credit no serious attempt was made to reverse the benefit cuts and tax changes that have had a disproportionate negative impact on women and BME households (see our pre-Budget press release here). The Government has failed to provide evidence that it has met its obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty to have due regard to the impact of its policies on equality by publishing a comprehensive equality impact assessment of the measures included in this Budget. We welcome the call of a cross party group of 127 MPs for the Government to publish such an impact assessment.

If you have any questions about this analysis or would like further information please contact our Director, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson maryann.stephenson@wbg.org.uk

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