Impact on women ignored in three main parties' plans to cut spending

Mary Dejevsky@IndyVoices
Sunday 28 March 2010 02:00

All three main political parties are failing to take into account the impact of looming public spending cuts on women, according to a damning critique by the Fawcett Society published today.

The policies of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats risk undermining the economic recovery because they do not sufficiently safeguard against a worsening of gender inequality in the battle to cut the national deficit.

The Fawcett Society asked the three parties to respond to questions on the economy as part of its coalition to highlight the female vote at the general election, called What About Women?

While each party receives praise for some plans, there is a warning that drastic public spending cuts will disproportionately affect women, whoever forms a government after polling day.

In an analysis of party responses after last week's Budget, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are applauded for progressive tax plans, including the Government's 50 per cent tax rate on top earners and the Lib Dems' promise to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000.

The Conservatives earn points for pledging to restore the link between state pensions and earnings, as more pensioners are women. Yet the Fawcett Society describes the responses as "piecemeal". The Tories' response did not even refer to their plans to introduce a married couples' allowance.

Women are more likely to be hit by public spending cuts because 65 per cent of workers in the public sector are female. The role of carer is also more likely to fall to women, meaning they are more likely to use public services.

Ceri Goddard, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "Gender equality is a prerequisite for a vibrant and sustainable economy. Not to do a gender equality assessment of cutting the deficit is frankly scandalous. None of the parties has committed to that simple measure."

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