Women at high risk of job loss as fuel crisis hits small businesses
Date Posted: Tuesday 6th September 2022
Soaring fuel costs could put women’s jobs at risk according to a new report published by the Women’s Budget Group today.
This is on top of the impact that record-high inflation is having on women’s living standards which, due to women’s lower incomes and savings, is making it harder for them to cope.
Rising food prices are a particular strain on single mothers’ budgets, as they spend a higher proportion of their income on food, while higher energy bills are a big concern for larger families. As the shock absorbers of poverty, women will be more likely to suffer the impact of scarce resources in the coming winter.
On the wider economy, with no cap on energy costs for businesses, small enterprises are struggling to cope, leaving millions at risk of job losses. The report highlights that women are the majority of workers in many of the hardest hit sectors.
Hospitality and retail were hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic and many are in no position to face the fuel crisis. Some estimate 500,000 jobs are at risk in hospitality alone. 82% of all part-time roles in contract food and service management and 72% in hotels are filled by women. Women are also the majority of workers in the retail sector. Closure or down-sizing of businesses in these sectors could leave many women without a job.
The care sector is also high risk as care homes and health centres cannot afford to cut back on heating costs without risking the lives of those they care for. Women are over represented in all of these sectors, particularly in more precarious roles.
“Women are already voicing their fears over rising costs and lack of essential services.” Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said. “Job losses will drive more families into poverty and see many struggling to survive the winter’.
The cost crisis: a gendered analysis, the third in a series of briefings on the cost of living crisis from the Women’s Budget Group, shares the multiple stressors faced by households in the cost-of-living crisis and how women bear the brunt of rising costs.
A decade of stagnant incomes is being compounded by 40-year record high inflation. Due to lower wages and less in savings, women are less prepared to face the rise in the cost of living yet they are often forced to bear the brunt of the impact. The poorest households are struggling to afford food, energy, transport and housing. In October, bills will increase by 80%. Many families are falling into fuel poverty, being forced to decide between eating or heating during the winter.
The Women’s Budget Group is calling for:
– Social security measures including a benefit uprate, child benefit increase, and an end to punitive measures such as the benefit cap and benefit sanctions.
– Strengthen the windfall tax on fuel companies and remove other tax subsidies.
– Additional support with rising fuel prices in the short term and an energy sector overhaul in the medium term.