What does the Spending Review mean for women?

Chancellor George Osborne this week announced government spending plans for 2015-16. Plans included:

– A 10 per cent cut to the Department for Communities and Local Government budget; this means councils – already struggling with reduced budgets – will likely cut more of their services. Those that are not ‘ring fenced’ will be worse affected – this includes Sure Start Children’s Centres and support services for victims of sexual and domestic violence;

– A further 144 000 public sector job losses – women make up the bulk of the public sector workforce so are disproportionately affected by cuts to this sector; more job losses will likely increase the already 25 year high in women’s unemployment;

– A new ‘cap’ on welfare spending – this will necessarily hit women harder as welfare payments typically make up around fifth – so 20 per cent – of average women’s incomes, as opposed to a tenth of men’s;

– New investment in infrastructure projects – while this is welcome, we are concerned the government is focussing largely on those industries where men dominate the workforce; more must be done to support women into these fields. Our research has shown that of the ‘new’ jobs created in the private sector in recent years, 2 in 3 of them have gone to men – despite the record number of women out of work.

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