Chapter 7 Social Security
Women are twice as dependent on social security as men and have less access to resources, assets and occupational pensions. This is due to a number of factors including women being more likely to give up work to care and earning less than men, and challenges in accessing childcare. This situation is even more acute in households where women experience domestic abuse.
What we are doing
Responding to the UK Government’s social security reform, the UK Women’s budget Group provided an assessment highlighting the disproportionate negative impact of this reform on women. This has resulted in women being placed at a greater risk of deeper and sustained poverty. The driver for the reform has been austerity and it has not taken gender equality into account. That is why gender runs so heavily through our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.
The design of a social security system can effect the gender pay gap in a number of ways. It can equalise access to income or exacerbate inequalities. It can act to enable women to access re-training or fully and equally participate in the labour market. It can force women to take employment which is detrimental to their well-being and long term earning potential.
In response we outlined in our Fairer Scotland Action Plan, Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and Equally Safe Delivery Plan how we will seek to mitigate the UK Government’s ‘social security reform’ founded on the basis of dignity, respect and human rights and to make the system fairer where we can.
However we recognise that we must continue to consider how best we ensure that gender equality is taken into account within our social security system.
In 2019 and beyond we will:
- Incorporate women’s equality into the Social Security Charter, to animate the principle of equality and non-discrimination on the face of the Social Security (Scotland) Act and work with equality groups on the development of this Charter.
- Ensure that regulations for specific entitlements, including our new income supplements, are robustly gender impact assessed, and that their cumulative impact on women’s equality is also impact assessed.
- Ensure that Social Security Scotland, as well as delivering the benefits service, will sign post women to advice on their maternity and workplace rights and to other relevant rights and services.
- Identify where UK Government social security reform is depleting women’s capacity to participate in higher and further education, and in a fair and sustainable labour market. Longer term following this we will consider what programmes and interventions need to be developed, taking into account the diverse needs of all women, in response.