Saturday, 4 September 2010

ConDem cuts declare war on equality

Ken Livingstone has published a damning analysis of the impact of government cuts on women. His report concludes that "women in London are paying twice as much as men for the government's cuts in public spending".

Up to 600,000 public sector jobs are under threat. Around 65% of public sector workers are women and will bear the brunt of these job losses. Women pensioners already suffer more poverty than men and public sector job losses and attacks on public sector pensions are likely to widen this gap even further. And women are far more likely to pay the cost of cuts in benefits and tax credits. A staggering 72% of these cuts are paid for by women and 38% from men - according to figures from the House of Commons library, commissioned by Labour MP Yvette Cooper.

The scale of this war on low paid women may even land the government in legal hot water. The Fawcett Society is taking the government to court, arguing that ministers were legally obliged to consider the impact of its budget measures on equality. Ceri Goddard, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, says:

"Women already earn less, own less, and have less control over their finances than men. Yet some £5.8 billion of the £8 billion of cuts  contained in the budget will be taken from women, who will also be worst affected by the coming cuts to public services - 65 per cent of public  sector workers are women....The blatant unfairness and the sheer scale of the impact this budget  could have on women have left us little choice but to resort to the courts for action."

The ConDems are clinging on to the bizarre idea that they are 'progressive'. But as reports like this demonstrate, they are anything but. The clock is being turned back to the days before a welfare state, and women are expected to pay the bulk of the cost.