Submission to the Covid-19 Committee inquiry on Life Beyond Covid
Date Posted: Tuesday 13th October 2020
The UK Women’s Budget Group has made a submission to the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee into Life Beyond Covid.
- The UK Women’s Budget Group believes that a care-led recovery from Coronavirus must be central to a just transition to a greener fairer more caring economy so that ‘Life Beyond Covid’ secures gender and other forms of equality.
- The pandemic has exposed the perilous state of care in the UK. The social care sector has been unable to protect those it cares for sufficiently to prevent a tragic death rate. Without specific investment, many parts of it and the childcare sector are unlikely to survive the next few months. This would set back equality for women, who are the ones more likely in practice to have their opportunities restricted by providing unpaid adult and childcare.
- To achieve a greener fairer economy the UK will need a significantly greater proportion of people employed in the care sector. To reach 10% of the population employed in the combined care sectors (roughly the proportions of Denmark and Sweden), a 4.3 %-point increase in the numbers employed there would be needed.
- Our research finds that investment in care, part of our social infrastructure, has the potential to create far more jobs than similar sized investment in physical infrastructure, such as construction. Unlike investment in construction, which would widen the gender employment gap, investment in care would narrow it while still providing more jobs for men. The jobs created by investment in care also produce far fewer GHG emissions, so even though there are many more of them, the GHG effect of spending on care is greener. Shifting employment into care is therefore an important help in responding to the climate emergency.
- There are many lessons to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic in order to build a greener fairer economy: the pandemic has exposed the result of nearly a decade of public service cuts where social care, social security and local government have been hardest hit. Government intervention during the pandemic has proven that intervention and investment are possible and needed to stimulate the economy.
- The pandemic has also revealed the precarity and low pay many key workers face, especially women, BAME women and disabled women. A greener fairer economy requires a new approach to whose work matters as well as improved pay, employment security, working conditions, childcare and flexibility.
- All forms of infrastructure developed, including housing, transport and energy, need to be designed with gendered behaviour patterns in mind. Action must be taken to decrease occupational segregation in the jobs created and close gender employment gaps. This requires employing more women than men in traditionally male dominated sectors, ensuring that women’s unpaid labour is not increased and enabling women to participate equally in the transition to a green economy.
- Equality Impact Assessments of all projects will be necessary in building a greener fairer economy. They must take account of impacts on both care and unpaid work, and on the gender division of labour within them.