Media Round-Up: March 2020

Date Posted: Monday 6th April 2020

Who's been talking about WBG this month?


The Star
All women welcome to attend International Women’s Day event in Sheffield this weekend
Lisa Wong, 4th March 2020

Research according to The Fawcett Society and the Women’s Budget Group, suggests that such issues need addressing in Sheffield.

And research has also found there is a gender employment gap of 9 percent fewer women than men across Sheffield, with five in 10 BAME women in employment, compared to seven in 10 white women.

Number of single mothers forced into temporary accommodation rises by 75 percent
Maya Oppenheim, 4th March 2020

Women are locked out of the housing market, and homes are unaffordable for them in every single English region, a report by the Women’s Budget Group and the Women’s Housing Forum found in July.

Researchers found that women need more than 12 times their annual salary to be able to buy a home in England, while men need just eight times their annual salary.

Average rents take 43 percent of women’s median earnings, but they take just 28 percent of men’s.

Why I’ll be Striking for International Women’s Day
Roosje Saalbrink, 6th March 2020

Women experiencing intersecting discriminations have it even tougher. Research by the Women’s Budget Group found that in the UK Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women are more likely to be living in poor households. In 2015/16, 50% of Bangladeshi households, 46% of Pakistani households and 40% of Black African/Caribbean households were living in poverty compared to 19% of White British households.

Morning Star
Tories start to put the boot in
Sabby Dhalu, 6th March 2020

Joint research by the Runnymede Trust and Women’s Budget Group showed that much of this is due to universal credit, with low-paid and unemployed black women losing £5,000 a year, even with income-tax cuts and an increase in the national living wage taken into account.

The research also showed that the poorest African, Caribbean and Asian households are set to lose about 20 per cent of their annual living standards by the end of this year, due to the combined impact of cuts to social security and public services. Single mothers will be 18 percent worse off.

Austerity has left household debt at an all-time high. According to the Women’s Budget Group, in 2019 UK households collectively owed £1.6 trillion, which is 13 per cent higher than at the time of the 2008 global financial crisis, paying an estimated £50 billion per year, or £137 million per day, in interest payments.

The Canary
On International Women’s Day, we need to remember the women at the bottom of UK society
Steve Topple, 8th March 2020

Fast-forward to 2018, and research by the UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) looked into which groups would be worse off due to government tax and benefit changes since 2010. By 2021, the research found that disabled women with a disabled child would have lost over £10,000 in income; far higher than any other groups. Next to lose out the most were disabled women with a disabled child or disabled children, dropping over £7,000 in income by 2021.

Inside Housing
Women’s housing needs are not being met
Denise Fowler, 8th March 2020

The Women’s Budget Group report, A Home of Her Own: Housing and Women, published in July 2019, makes salutary reading. Perhaps the most telling statistic is that there is no region in England where private rented housing is affordable on women’s median earnings. On the other hand, someone on men’s median earnings could afford to rent in every region except London and the South East.

Green World
International Women’s Day 2020: Why is climate justice a feminist issue?
Kate Metcalf, 8th March 2020

Wen, in partnership with The Women’s Budget Group, is developing work on a Feminist Green New Deal in the UK in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow in November and beyond.

We’ll be producing a FemGND Policy Paper which will be presented to the Commission for a Gender Equal Economy as well as a FemGND Set of Principles. We’ll be launching the Principles document at a Wen Forum event on a Feminist Green New Deal at COP26. Valuing the care economy will be central to a FemGND as well as advocating for expanded and affordable public transport for all.

Budgets are built on women’s unpaid work, it’s time to fix that
Laura Purkess, 9th March 2020

To tackle regional inequality, Stephenson says, significant investments in ‘social infrastructure’ are required to create equality between men and women, as opposed to just investment in physical infrastructure and general healthcare.

‘One of the things the Women’s Budget Group has argued, for a long time, is that this sort of spending should be seen as an investment, as it will have a positive effect on the economy as a whole.

‘Spending on education doesn’t just impact the person directly receiving it. It benefits the economy as a whole to have a well-educated workforce.’

The Guardian
A budget for social infrastructure
Jeremy Beecham, 9th March 2020

Research by the Women’s Budget Group has shown that investment in care services would create millions of jobs and that much of the initial investment is recovered by increases in tax revenue and consumption from direct and indirect job creation. Investment in care would also address the social care crisis and the shortage of affordable childcare, and free up people with caring responsibilities to enter the paid workforce.

The Bureau
Why Bureau Local Wants to ‘Change the Story’
9th March 2020

We are doing this over the next few months by launching our Change the Story project. Please get involved! This will include: Running a three-month advisory group, made up of some amazing journalists and engaged citizens from all over the country. Find out more about them below.
Sara Reis
Sara is a research and policy officer at the Women’s Budget Group, a feminist think tank that analyses the impact of government’s economic policy on women. “I’m looking forward to connecting with people working to hold local authorities to account in different ways and contribute a gender perspective to the brilliant work the Bureau Local does.”

If the UK government is to deliver on its promises, it must be willing to raise taxes
Robert Palmer, 10 March 2020

Along with a number of economists, I’ve pointed out in a letter to the Guardian that spending on health, education and care should also be treated as an investment in the UK’s long term success. The Women’s Budget Group have shown that more spending on care services would create millions of jobs and increased tax revenues that would allow the government to recoup much of its investment.

However, in order to tackle some of the big challenges facing us, including an aging population, high levels of inequality and the impact of ten years of austerity, it’s likely that the government will have to raise taxes as well as borrow more. Leaks in advance of the budget suggest that the government wants to prepare the ground for tax hikes.

The Mirror
Budget 2020: 13 nasty details hidden in the small print
Mikey Smith, Niola Bartlett, and Dan Bloom, 11th March 2020

There’s no mention of where tampon tax funding will go:

Women’s Budget Group Director Mary-Ann Stephenson said: “We welcome the removal of the tampon tax, but the Chancellor said nothing about what would replace it as a source of funding for violence against women and girls services, which it is estimated need £393 million a year.”

An end to austerity? Not for women or people of colour
Claudia Webb, 11th March 2020

Women have shouldered 86 per cent of Tory cuts, thanks to what the Women’s Budget Group describes as a “triple whammy” of increased reliance upon benefits, our traditional role as unpaid carers and our over-representation in the public sector.

Bristol Live
Budget: Universal Credit will not be fully rolled out until 2026
Estel Farell Roig, 12th March 2020

There’s no mention of where tampon tax funding will go:

Women’s Budget Group Director Mary-Ann Stephenson said: “We welcome the removal of the tampon tax, but the Chancellor said nothing about what would replace it as a source of funding for violence against women and girls services, which it is estimated need £393 million a year.”

Childcare affects hundreds of thousands of people — where was it in the Budget?
Felicity Hannah, 12th March 2020

Properly funded universal childcare would largely pay for itself. Research from the Women’s Budget Group suggests that investing in high quality, free and universal childcare would increase women’s employment rate by 6.4 percentage points.

Yes, it would be expensive to properly fund it but it would also increase the tax take and cut spending on benefits, which the Women’s Budget Group estimates would cover between 89 per cent and 95 per cent of the cost.

BBC Woman’s Hour
Family Secrets…
Jenni Murray, 18th March 2020

Last week’s budget saw a series of big public spending and investment projects announced. These focused on physical infrastructure. But what of social infrastructure – the investment in people who staff social care and the support for women in and out of work as the country faces the enormous challenge of Covid 19. Jenni speaks to Professor Diane Elson of the Women’s Budget Group and Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK.

Coronavirus: How to Help the Most Vulnerable Women in Society
Sophie Wilkinson, 18th March 2020

According to Mary-Ann Stephenson of the Women’s Budget Group, ‘It’s going to be difficult for people working on zero-hours contracts, doing low paid work in the care sector to decide to self-isolate if they’re not going to get paid anything.’

Coronavirus: School closures will make tackling the childcare crisis more important than ever
Marisa Bate, 19th March 2020

Government investment in free universal childcare and funding childcare workers would be expensive, estimated by the Women’s Budget Group to be £55bn, but would free up countless women to contribute to the economy. A cancelled shift, a rent hike, or late benefit payment (in normal times) would no longer have to mean spiralling into debt or eviction, and the state having to pay for the fallout. We wouldn’t have the drop off rates of women in high paying sectors like economics and science because industries created by men, which are inhospitable to mothers, would no longer be. These things would benefit us all.

‘Key Workers’ Are the Unrecognised Backbone of Our Economy. They Deserve More
Jenna Norman, 20th March 2020

Remember just a month ago when the government announced its plans for a new immigration system? Remember that they would have excluded thousands of social carers, teaching and healthcare assistants, cleaners and childcare workers who are now providing life-saving care?

The idea that these workers, most of whom are women, are ‘low-skilled’ looks pretty absurd during the Covid-19 crisis. In fact, many of these roles have been designated as ‘critical’ by the government in fighting the outbreak.

The Big Issue
Cash Carraway: ‘One mistake in poverty and your life is thrown into chaos’
Hannah Westwater, 20th March 2020

Landlords were suddenly refusing to take you, then once Universal Credit was introduced everything got a million times worse. There’ll be one or two properties in the area that would be covered by housing benefit, and otherwise it’s out of the question. [Last year the Women’s Budget Group research showed there was no region in England where the average home to rent was affordable for women on median earnings.] Often you end up having to pay on top of that benefit just to have somewhere to live. If you’re on low wages or unemployed it becomes impossible to eat. Foodbank usage goes up. It’s a domino effect.

Global Economists to UK Government: ‘Self-Employed Have Been Left Out in the Cold’
Naman Ramachandran, 23rd March 2020

Several economists, academics and directors of research institutions from around the world have written to Rishi Sunak, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, asking the government to extend support to the self-employed.

Signatories are from a range of institutions, including King’s College, London, Tax Justice U.K., European University Institute, U.K. Women’s Budget Group, Universities of London, Salento, Oxford, Cambridge, Manitoba, Rhode Island, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the London School of Economics and the Sorbonne.

From abortion to domestic violence: How the Coronavirus Crisis Hits Women the Hardest
Vicky Spratt, 25th March 2020

The Women’s Budget Group also points out that women are more likely to be employed in service sectors that have been hit hardest by social distancing measures, more likely to be on insecure and zero-hour contracts, more likely to be dependent on social security and more likely to be in an insecure housing situation. As a report they published earlier this year found, there is currently not a single place in Britain where it is affordable for women to rent or buy a home of their own. Single women and solo parents (90% of whom are women) are already less able to afford housing, so if their income suffers because of this crisis they will be harder hit. Women also hold 70% of jobs that are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

This is why the coronavirus bill will hit women hardest according to experts
Sophie Gallagher, 26th March 2020

‘Though significantly more men than women appear to be fatalities of the virus in the UK, there are specific concerns for women in the bill,’ says the Women’s Budget Group

Although the government said an equalities impact assessment was done before the legislation was passed (although it is not publicly available) the Women’s Budget Group, a charity which scrutinises government policy from a gender perspective, says the bill has gaps that will disproportionately impact women.

Global Business Daily: Germany warning, no Irish emergency, $2trn bailout
Patrick Atack, 26th March 2020

‘In many economies including the UK, the only people allowed to travel to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic are “key workers.” To discuss who these are and how the UK government is assisting the self-employed, CGTN Europe spoke to Jenna Norman of UK Women’s Budget Group, which describes itself as working for a “caring economy that promotes gender equality.”

The Guardian
Low-paid women in UK at ‘high risk of coronavirus exposure’
Robert Booth, 29th March 2020

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, the director of the Women’s Budget Group, which analyses the impacts of policies on women, said: “We’d known that workers on the frontline at most risk of Covid-19 were often badly paid and mainly women, but these figures are still a shock.

“It can’t be right that many of those at the sharp end, providing services under pressure and at high risk of getting sick themselves, are earning so little. Many will not even qualify for sick pay. This should be a wake-up call – we don’t just need action now, we need change in the future to properly value this essential work.”

The Ecologist
Women fighting Covid-19 on poverty pay
Catherine Early, 31st March 2020

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women’s Budget Group, which scrutinises government policy from a gender perspective, said: “We’d known that workers on the frontline at most risk of Covid 19 were often badly paid and mainly women, but these figures are still a shock.

Five Strategies for Narrowing the Gender Pay Gap
Hira Ali, 31st March 2020

According to calculations by women’s budget group, investing 2% of GDP in the caring industries would generate up to 1.5 million jobs in the UK, compared to 750,000 for an equivalent investment in construction.