Statistically women experience more poverty than men. I have cited figures from the 2005 General Household Survey before, merely because I used it for some coursework at university, thus it is important to remember that there are many more comprehensive analyses that can be used when proving that the feminisation of poverty is a fact – however, it is useful all the same. It shows how female heads of households are two times more likely to be in poverty than male heads of households, with poverty levels at 43.4% and 21.4%, respectively.
Given that women are already more likely to be in an economic situation that can mean that they are dependent on their husband/partner etc. or the state – the detailed audit that was commissioned by Yvette Cooper (who incidentally would have had a much better chance of winning the Labour leadership than Ed Balls) showing how women are set to face three-quarters of the cuts “with more than 70 per cent of the revenue raised from direct tax and benefit changes to come from female tax payers” is disastrous when it comes to striving for equality and fairness. Consider this, for example:
“Of nearly £8bn net revenue to be raised by the financial year 2014-15, nearly £6bn will come from women and just over £2bn from men.”
A specific budget policy worth highlighting when considering these figures is the inability of the rise in income tax threshold to help women out of poverty. As women are less likely to pay income tax, they are not likely to be as helped by this change – and will actually be even worse off when taking into account that the income threshold rise will be paid largely from cutting the public sector – which women predominately work in – 65% – (in part-time work mainly, I may add).
Consider also the recent comments by Frank Field, who is all but in name a Tory, (after recent Twitter discussions, there are many of us who just try to pretend he isn’t real) who is very much toeing the traditional conservative line that women are the ‘natural’ carers and should stay at home and look after the child whilst the man goes to work and fulfils his ‘natural’ breadwinner role. It is utter rubbish, and is proudly something the feminist movement has helped overturn. The economic dependence that is promoted through these damaging traditional attitudes only seek to make women’s poverty experiences more likely.
The ‘Big Society’ also has to be factored in here. This is something I have commented on before, as the promotion of the private sector, charity and voluntary services all seeks to undermines women’s paid work. Women are less likely to work and be employed in the private sector, whereas they are more likely to work in the thrid sector – which is often unpaid. Added on top of this, is often house duties which women are unfairly pressured into thinking is their ‘natural’ obligation to fulfil, and this only seeks to make them dependent on the state and their partners etc.
So for many women who have basically had no choice but to rely on the state for benefits because of the still prevailing corrosive attitude towards women, the ideological disposition of this current government to cut and shrink the state is only going to make their situation 10x worse.
In summation, it is only more damning evidence that falsifies any credible claim that this budget is somehow a beacon of progressive policy and direction.