UK Budget Assessments
2015 Autumn Statement and Spending Review: Full Analysis
Date Posted: Wednesday 16th December 2015
The Chancellor in his opening remarks to the Autumn Statement and Spending Review 2015 promised to ‘put security first’ and to ‘leave to the next generation a stronger country than the one we inherited’. Yet with further cuts to the social infrastructure that will see public spending, as a proportion of national income, fall to nearly its lowest level since the war, the daily lives of many will be increasingly insecure. Yet again women stand to lose the most, and gain the least. The Chancellor has reiterated his commitment to delivering a budget surplus by 2019/2020 and to achieving this largely through expenditure cuts, which, our analysis shows, disproportionately impact women and those on low incomes, such as lone parents and female single pensioners.
The main points of this analysis are:
- Overall fiscal targets and public spending priorities: commitment to achieve a budget surplus based on uncertain economic forecast and entrenched spending cuts.
- No thorough gender impact assessment.
- Employment is up, but there are concerns about quality and pay.
- Social security cuts families’ opportunities and security.
- Devolution will disadvantage poorer areas with the greatest needs of public services.
- Social care will still receive inadequate funding.
- Increased childcare provision is welcome but leaves many behind.
- Education – from public debt to private debt, and still no measures to address gender segregation.
- Helping those at the margins of home ownership, not those most in need.
- Still failing to adequately invest in safer lives for women.
Far from providing for ‘security’, the announcements in the Spending Review undermine the social infrastructure – social security, health, education, and care systems – that, when properly resourced, acts as a vital safety net. Women, as this briefing shows, are again bearing the brunt of the cuts.
Pursuing deficit reduction in this way is a political choice, not a necessity. As the Women’s Budget Group has shown in successive briefings, there are alternatives that can lay the foundations for economic and social security. These requires a rebalancing to ensure that revenue is raised from those who can most afford to pay, rather than from those in most need, and public investment in a social security system and public services that can deliver a better future for all.