A study by the House of Commons library states that of the £8 billion raised by the budget changes in direct taxes and benefits, £5.8 billion will be paid by women, and only £2.2 billion by men.
Child benefits will be frozen for three years. With rises in VAT and inflation, this reduces the real income of all mothers. Pregnant women will lose the “Health in Pregnancy benefit” and the “Sure Start Maternity Grant” will now be limited to the first child.
Lone parents, 90% of whom are women, will be required to look for paid work when their youngest child reaches the age of 5. But public expenditure cuts will result in fewer jobs and less child care provisions being available. Furthermore if you’re on Jobseekers Allowance for over a year, your housing benefit will be cut by 10%. This means a real decline in income for single parents unable to find paid work compatible with their child care responsibilities. Currently three out of four single parent households in Northern Ireland live in poverty. This will only increase.
In Britain, about two-thirds of the 2.1 million pensioners living in poverty are women. Social care services for the elderly, from care homes to meals-on-wheels will be hit hard by the cuts, putting more pressure on family carers (mainly women).
Tighter criteria for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) may not only lead to loss of income for people with a disability. It will also effect the eligibility for Carer’s Allowance (CA) – three quarters of CA recipients are women.
On average, women do 2 hours more unpaid work a day than men. The cut in vital public and social services, will see an increase of this unpaid labour. The main profiteer of this inequality is the capitalist system. It suits the ruling class to have women carrying out unpaid labour in the isolation of their homes instead of carrying out that work as part of an organised, paid workforce. Our trade unions need to fight back and organise the members, male and female, against the slaughter of our social and public services.