UK Policy Briefings
2019 WBG Briefing: Social security and gender
Date Posted: Friday 1st November 2019
Social SecurityUniversal Credit
- Cuts to social security benefits affect women more than men because of their generally lower income, longer lives and greater caring responsibilities.
- The total cumulative cut by 2021-22 is estimated to be worth £38.6bn per year (as costed by the OBR, using CPI)
- Nearly half of the successive cuts since 2010 in the real value of social security benefits are due to lower indexation and freezes in benefits and tax credits.
- Drastic cuts to certain tax credit elements and the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) will penalise many women as primary carers and secondary earners. The payment of UC into a single bank account on a monthly basis makes budgeting more difficult and increases the risk of financial abuse for women in controlling relationships.
- Cuts to child-related payments for third and subsequent children are unfair to children and will disproportionately hit the incomes of BAME women, who tend to have larger families.
- Stricter eligibility conditions for lone parents and disabled people to claim benefits have made many disadvantaged people, and women in particular, more vulnerable, especially in the context of a precarious labour market. These cuts have not been accompanied by equivalent resources for support to find suitable employment and services such as childcare.
- Cuts to housing benefits in the context of rising private rents have been severe and have led to difficulties for families in finding suitable accommodation near schools and the workplace, affecting lone parents in London in particular. This is reinforced by the introduction of a weekly benefit cap in 2011, and its further reduction in 2015.
- WBG argues that the scope and generosity of the social security system should be reinstated and based on principles of human rights, alongside adequate investment in the social infrastructure of education, health and care public services. Failing to do so risks making short-term cost-savings, but storing up long-term problems.