Exclusive: George Osborne's tax and benefits changes hit women almost four times harder than men

Wives and mothers suffer £11.6bn squeeze, while men reap most of benefit from tax cuts

Political Editor

George Osborne’s tax and benefit changes have hit women almost four times as hard as men, according to new research which threatens to compound the Conservative Party’s unpopularity among women.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that the Chancellor’s tax and benefit strategy since 2010 has raised a net £3.047 billion (21 per cent) from men and £11.628 billion (79 per cent) from women.

Labour will mark International Women’s Day today by celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women and seizing on the figures. It will demand measures to close the “gender gap” and tackle the “cost of living crisis” in the Budget on 19 March.

The analysis suggests that women were hit hard by the cuts to tax credits, which top up the earnings of those on low incomes: the 2010 Budget took £2.7 billion from women and only £750 million from men. Reductions in childcare support through tax credits in the 2010 government-wide spending review saw women lose £343 million and men £47 million.

The Chancellor’s three-year freeze in child benefit, usually paid to the mother, took £1.26 billion from women but only £26 million from men.

Conversely, men reaped the most benefit from Mr Osborne’s controversial decision to reduce the top rate of tax on income over £150,000 a year from 50p to 45p. Some 85 per cent of the gains went to men, and only 15 per cent to women.

Labour will also point to a separate study by HM Revenue & Customs showing that the decision to bring in a £1,000 transferable tax allowance for four million married couples next year will give a £411 million handout to men (84 per cent) and only £84 million to women (16 per cent).

Labour is not promising to reverse all the changes but argues that the gender bias illustrates “the choices” made by Mr Osborne and David Cameron.

 

Catherine McKinnell, a Labour Treasury spokeswoman, said: “It’s little wonder the Government has made such unfair choices when women are so absent from the top table. After significant progress under Labour, when the gender pay gap fell by over 7 per cent, the pay gap between men and women is now increasing again. The cost of childcare places has risen by an average 30 per cent on David Cameron’s watch – five times faster than pay. The truth is that for women across the country this is no recovery at all.”

She added: “George Osborne’s Budget is one of his final opportunities to turn the tide on this Government’s failure towards women. But after their woeful record of the last four years, I’m not holding my breath.”

However, some experts argue that the apparent bias against women stems from the make-up of those receiving benefits and pensions rather than the result of specific policies targeted at women.

The Treasury insisted the analysis was flawed. A spokesman for Mr Osborne said: “The Government’s long-term plan is working, with 1.6 million new private sector jobs and more women in work than ever before. This means more women and families with the peace of mind and financial security that comes with a regular pay-packet. This is why the biggest risk to the recovery and to women would be abandoning the plan that's providing economic security for hardworking people by going back to the days of more borrowing, more spending and higher taxes."

The spokesman added: “By focusing only on the named beneficiary of tax and benefit measures, this analysis fundamentally misunderstands the way in which families and couples share their income, thereby distorting the impact on men and women. The increase in the personal tax-free allowance, child tax credits and marriage tax allowance have all benefited women and families, while ensuring that the Government can tackle the debt that it has inherited in the fairest possible way”.

Most opinion polls show a gender gap. This week’s ComRes survey for The Independent gave Labour an 11-point lead over the Conservatives among women (39 to 28 per cent) and a four-point advantage among men (36 to 32 per cent).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher Cornwall

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London