<i>IoS</i> letters, emails &amp; online postings (27 March 2011)

The Budget was yet another blow to women. Lone parents and single female pensioners, already among the poorest citizens in Britain today, will suffer most from the Chancellor's harsh cuts to public spending. By 2014/5 the average household will lose public services worth 6.85 per cent of their cash income; for single female pensioners that figure is 11.7 per cent; for lone parents it is a whopping 18.5 per cent. This Budget did nothing to put that right. Even its small concessions to income-tax payers and motorists will help women less than men, since fewer women pay income tax or own cars.

While it sounds positive to reduce the regulations that small businesses are subject to, these include maternity and paternity rights. With lone parents now expected to seek work when their youngest child is five, 400,000 more will be looking for work this year. Such regulations enable workers to combine employment with caring responsibilities.

The Government's failure to produce a gender-impact assessment of its emergency budget landed it in court. But on this Budget there was no overall assessment of its effects on men and women at all, just a few comments on the equality impact of particular measures.

This Government's policies have been a disaster for women and nothing they are doing in this budget will put that right.

Susan Himmelweit

Women's Budget Group

Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

It would be touching to read that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is promising "to train a new generation of highly skilled workers", were it not so profoundly cynical ("Osborne pledges £200m to train unemployed young", 20 March).

The only way apprenticeships work is for young people to move in to real jobs in which their acquisition of skill is rewarded in secure wages. That means having employers sufficiently confident in future growth to be willing to take on apprentices. But Osborne's own Budget saw very little scope for growth in the period in which today's teenagers seek work. Where, for example, are the new jobs to be found in construction with the slashing of infrastructural investment?

Celia Trevelyan

Ely, Cambridgeshire

That blood-soaked US arms giant Lockheed Martin – manufacturer of cluster bombs and Trident nuclear missiles – has received a £150m contract to process the forms from today's census has angered many people. Lockheed says, "[U]nrecognised responses are sent to highly trained operators to code... a difficult and expensive process." Writing upside down foxes that scanning software.

Maya Evans

St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex

Another government, another war. How, in these times of massive debt, can we finance yet another opportunistic adventure, albeit supported by the American cowboys? The cost of the two jets flying from Norfolk on day one must, at a very conservative estimate, have cost £2m, yet schools and libraries must close, services be cut, roads left unrepaired, street lights switched off, etc. The Government may well feel morally superior in attacking Gaddafi, yet the campaign has already gone from creating a no-fly zone to attacking ground forces. The Government appears to have learnt very little from Iraq or Afghanistan or from Britain's aggressive imperialistic history.

Barry Clarke

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

America regards itself as classless ("All middle class now in this unequal land?", 20 March) Isn't the central point of Frasier the class conflict between blue-collar cop dad and effete middle-class sons? Middle-class viewers are amused by the sons' mild excesses and sympathise with them. Blue-collar viewers share the dad's scorn.

watzat

posted online

Surely the middle class are just those of working-class origins who have escaped manual work?

Hamish

posted online

A welder down south will say he is middle class. A welder up north will say he is working class. The British are great at self-delusion.

murdochlies

posted online

Anyone who owns their home is middle class. To be working class you have to be a tenant, in a hostel or homeless. Anyone who went to private school or sends their children to private school is upper class. Simples!

george_spiggott

posted online

If you have a garden you are middle class. I don't have a garden.

Dick Socrates

posted online

There are only two classes: the idle rich and the poor. Now, where did I put my lottery ticket?

nuzenite

posted online

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2011/March/27

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