Women Hit Hardest By Welfare Reforms, Say Scottish Greens

22 November 2017, 05:24

Gender Pay Gap

Women have been hardest hit by austerity and welfare reforms, a Green MSP will tell a Holyrood summit.

Scottish Green social security spokeswoman Alison Johnstone has organised the meeting of anti-poverty campaigners and women's rights organisation on the day of the UK Government budget to address the "shameful" targeting of women and families.

She said: "Research indicates that 70% to 85% of cuts to public spending on benefits, taxation, pay and pensions between 2010 and 2015 come from women's incomes.

"The grossly disproportionate impact of welfare reform and austerity on women's lives cannot be tolerated.

"From the unacceptable two-child limit on tax credits and universal credit, the vile rape clause, and the unjust benefit cap, the changes we have seen visited on our social security system would have seemed unthinkable a decade ago. It is shameful that any government should target women and their families in this way.

"The poorest families have lost the most and analysis by the Women's Budget Group shows that low income black and Asian women are paying the highest price for austerity. Carers and households where one or more family members has a disability have also been unfairly affected by cuts to support.

"Anti-poverty campaigners are calling on the Chancellor to finally end the benefits freeze, which has lost 700,000 families in Scotland a total of £300 million in essential income. Thousands of families are being plunged into poverty and child poverty is predicted to rise so we need urgent change."

She also called on the Scottish Government to protect vulnerable families from the benefit cap, which affects more than 11,000 children in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman blamed UK Government austerity and welfare cuts for having a "devastating" impact on families.

He said: "Our Child Poverty Act means Scotland will be the only part of the UK with statutory targets to reduce child poverty, with long-term delivery plans to tackle its deep-rooted causes of poverty.

"This is one step alongside other actions such as increasing carers allowance, investing in a new Best Start Grant for low income families and investing significantly in funded free childcare."

A UK Government spokesman said the Scottish Government can use its devolved powers to help people in need.

He added: "Our welfare reforms are helping people improve their lives and Universal Credit claimants are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than the old system.

"Scotland has substantial welfare powers including those relating to disability and flexibility over Universal Credit payments."