WBG Submission to the Women and Equalities Committee October 2023

Date Posted: Friday 8th December 2023

cost of livinggender equality

The Women’s Budget Group submitted a consulation response to the Women and Equalities Committee on the impact of the rising cost of living on women.

Summary

  • The UK economy continues to experience significant interlinked shocks with important consequences for living standards, businesses and public finances. Inflation is at the highest level it has been in 40 years, driven mostly by global causes, chief of which is unprecedented high energy costs. Combined with lower-than-inflation wage growth and weakened public services from over a decade of underfunding followed by a global pandemic, people’s living standards are falling.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis is higher on those on low incomes who are more dependent on public services, spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials and have less savings.
  • A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that approximately 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022, including around one million children. This is almost two-and-a-half times the number of people in 2017, and nearly triple the number of children.
  • Poverty is a gendered phenomenon and women are more likely to live in poverty than men. As set out in our 2018 report with Coventry women’s organisations, ‘The Female Face of Poverty’, the position of women in the labour market, the design of social security and women’s roles within the family all contribute to women’s vulnerability to poverty.
  • As the cost-of-living crisis comes after over a decade of severe cuts to social security and public services which left families struggling financially, it is crucial that the fabric of the benefit system is repaired with urgency; the bulk of the increases in cost of living should fall on those more able to shoulder them through a windfall tax on business; and public investment must made in public services to support people in bearing the increased costs.