Equality has taken ‘massive step backwards’ says Minister.
Women are being unfairly impacted by recent UK Government cuts to benefits and welfare eligibility, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance has said
An estimated 20% of women’s income comes from benefits and child tax credits, compared to 10% of men’s[i]. Meanwhile, of all in-work families receiving child tax credits, 87% of recipients were women. For in-work single parents, 94% of recipients were female[ii].
By 2020-21 it is estimated around 50,000 Scottish households will be affected by the changes to child tax credits, which will be capped at two children. This means anyone with two children or more will no longer receive tax credits at the birth of their next child or subsequent children, unless an exception applies. The policy also affects those making a new Universal Credit claim.
In addition, new families will lose £545 a year from the removal of the ‘family element’ – an additional payment that applies to the birth of a first child.
Ms Constance said:
“The latest welfare cuts are having a hugely damaging and disproportionate impact on women. It is, frankly, an appalling assault on the incomes of ordinary people already struggling to make ends meet.
“It is all the more concerning because in many households women are the primary, or even sole, carers of children – a massive step backwards for equality in our society.
“As usual we are seeing an alarming lack of understanding from the UK Government about the impact of their ideologically-driven policies. This is most evident in the extremely ill-thought through ‘rape clause’, where – shockingly – women have to provide evidence they’ve been raped to access benefits.
“The UK Government’s callous policies make our own efforts to eradicate child poverty even harder. We are spending some £100 million a year on welfare mitigation to protect the vulnerable and those on low incomes, which we would rather be investing in anti-poverty measures. The reality is we are tackling deep seated issues of inequality with one hand tied behind our back.
“These welfare cuts were also introduced at the same time the UK Government reduced taxes for the most well off south of the border. In contrast, our approach to social security will be based on dignity and respect and listening to people’s views – that’s why we are recruiting 2,000 people to shape the new system through our Experience Panels.”
Further detail on UK Government’s welfare changes.
Find out more about the Scottish Government’s social security Experience Panels.
Citizens Advice Scotland offer free and independent advice on dealing with the impact of the welfare changes. They can be contacted on 0808 800 9060, while their website includes information on benefits along with details of local bureaus.
[i] Source: Fawcett Society, 2016
[ii] Source: HMRC, December 2016