UK Budget Assessments
WBG Response to Budget 2004
Date Posted: Thursday 18th March 2004
Key Recommendations :
- The WBG welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to increase public expenditure in order to invest rather than to cut taxes. We recommend that he should invest in a fourth key area, to support the provision of care, as well as investing in science, education and enterprise.
- Gender analysis should be included in all budget matters.
- We welcome the commitment to increasing transparency on the level of performance against PSA targets and recommend that in order to deliver transparency their performance should be measured using gender disaggregated statistics, even if gender is not named within the PSA. Lessons should be learnt from the HM Treasury and Women and Equality Unit Gender Analysis of Expenditure Pilot project.
- The concept and definition of ‘investment’ should be expanded so that it includes investment in education and in children (sometimes called investment in human capital) .
- The UK has a larger gender productivity gap than many comparator countries. The Chancellor should develop the analysis and policy instruments to monitor and tackle the gender productivity gap.
- Work place training schemes should be extended to people who wish to return to work after a period of caring but need training to re-enter the labour market in quality jobs. This will contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap, increasing paid employment for lone parents and abolishing child poverty.
- Job centre staff should be able to use additional funds to tackle the particular barriers faced by all women, and especially those dealing with the interaction of different forms of discrimination, in finding paid employment.
- When setting conditions for job-seekers benefits, consideration should be given to the particular difficulties faced by those with caring responsibilities, and to the interests of those for whom they are caring.
- We welcome efforts to help lone parents into paid employment. However the Government must recognise that a substantial number of lone parents are not in a position to take up immediate employment, and should ensure they receive the help and support they require.
- While we support the principle of individualising benefits, we recommend that the Government give serious consideration as to how best to do this, with particular reference to the impact on women, and in consultation with civil society groups such as the WBG. The current British pension system, state and private, is grossly inadequate for women and in need of a radical overhaul. Pensions must be restructured so as not to penalise women for their major contribution to caring work. In particular the system of caring credits should be revamped to give adequate reward for women’s unpaid work.
- We welcome additional funding for childcare and children’s centres, but are concerned that childcare places are not being created quickly enough.
- WBG welcomes the support offered to the main carer through the new system of tax credits but maintains that Child Benefit is the most effective form of spending to address child poverty as it also ‘follows the child’ via receipt by the main carer without the problems of complexity or take-up. The money allocated to the Child Trust Fund would be better spent on increasing Child Benefit.
- We believe that the Government has now given the voluntary pay audit approach a fair trial, and we believe that the time is now right to consider when and how such audits should be made mandatory.