Response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women

Date Posted: Thursday 11th February 2021

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to urge you to ensure that the recommendations of the Women and Equalities Select Committee on the unequal economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women are implemented urgently.

We welcome the committee’s thorough analysis and support its findings and recommendations.

Equality is not a nice-to-have which can be shelved in times of crisis.

The report makes clear that the coronavirus policy response has overlooked women, and potentially exacerbated the unequal position of women in the workforce and society that was evident prior to the pandemic.

Our organisations know that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic, young women, Disabled women are amongst those who have been further economically disadvantaged.

We call on the government to act now to implement the recommendations of the report.

These recommendations mirror many changes that the organisations signing this letter have been calling for since March 2020, including: statutory sick pay for all workers on zero hours contracts, maintaining the £20 Universal Credit uplift and expanding it to those on legacy benefits, publishing equality impact assessments for all job creation and support schemes, and reinstating the enforcement of gender pay gap reporting.

The Committee previously recommended the Government suspends the ‘no recourse to public funds policy’ for the duration of the pandemic and conducts an inquiry into the impact of the policy. We strongly support this recommendation – suspending the policy would help protect some of the most marginalised and vulnerable women during the pandemic.

Without effective policy from the UK Government and concerted effort from employers, there is a real risk the pandemic will turn back decades of progress on women’s rights and equality.

Equality is good for women, for our economy and for society.

We are grateful for the work of the committee in undertaking this work, and hope that you will act now to implement its recommendations.

Yours Sincerely,

Felicia Willow, Interim CEO, The Fawcett Society

Abi Shapiro, Interim Chief Executive, Young Women’s Trust

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress

Ross Bragg, Director, Maternity Action

Nicki Norman, Acting Chief Executive, Women’s Aid Federation of England

Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, UK Women’s Budget Group

Joeli Brearley, CEO, Pregnant Then Screwed