WBG statement on election spending plans: Infrastructure spending must include investment in social infrastructure

Date Posted: Friday 8th November 2019

ChildcareEducationGeneral Election 2019IntersectionalitySocial CareSocial Infrastructure

The Women’s Budget Group welcomes the announcements by Sajid Javid and John McDonnell that both the Conservative and Labour parties would increase investment in infrastructure.

After ten years of austerity, which has resulted in increased poverty, rising homelessness and a crisis in public services, a change of direction is long overdue.

Our work with the Runnymede Trust has shown that women, particularly poor women, BME women and disabled women have been hit hardest by austerity so it is vital that they benefit from any increase in public spending.

This should include investment in social infrastructure (public services such as health, care and education) as well as physical infrastructure (roads, rail, and the buildings in which these services are delivered).

Investment of 2% of GDP in the care sector would create twice as many jobs as the same investment in construction. It would also address the crisis in social care which is hitting women hardest as the majority of those needing care, and the majority of those providing it, paid and unpaid.         Unlike most other forms of investment spending, investment in care also increases the labour force, by enabling those doing unpaid care to take jobs or increase their level of employment.

Investment in high quality, free, universal childcare would create up to 1.7m full-time equivalent job, increasing overall employment by 4.3 percentage points and women’s employment rate by 6.4 percentage points. Increased tax revenue and reduced social security spending would cover between 95% and 89% of the costs of this investment.

In addition investment in construction and green technologies should include investment in training and other mechanisms to ensure that women are able to take advantage of the new jobs created in construction and STEM.