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28/08/13 10:26

Welfare reform

Women worse off due to Westminster’s benefit cuts.

Women and families are disproportionately affected by the UK Government’s benefit reform programme, according to analysis published today.

The Gender Impact of Welfare Reform shows that many women will be worse off due to Westminster’s changes to the benefits system.

Mothers in particular are more likely to lose out financially as they are often the main carers of children and because certain benefits are typically paid to women.

Previous analysis of reforms between 2010-11 and 2014-15 (excluding Universal Credit) carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, found on average, single females are predicted to lose more than 4.5 per cent of their net income compared to just under four per cent for males. For couples, many of the benefits typically paid to women have been frozen, cut or had entitlement restricted.

The key changes likely to affect women through the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and successive budgets, Autumn Statements and the Spending Review 2010 are:

  • Child Benefit freeze from 2011 to 2014, and one per cent uprating from 2014 to 2016
  • the benefit cap - single female households make up 60 per cent of those affected
  • reduction of Child Benefit for households where an individual earns above £50,000, and removal where one individual earns above £60,000,
  • reduction in the proportion of childcare costs covered by Working Tax Credit
  • increase in the taper rate for all Tax Credits
  • removal of the baby element of Child Tax Credits
  • requirement for lone parents on Income Support with a youngest child aged five or six to move to Job Seekers Allowance
  • abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant
  • under the new Universal Credit system structure a single monthly payment will be made to one person in a couple household, with a single earnings disregard which may weaken the incentive for second earners (mainly women) to work

Launching the report at one of the Argyll and Bute Council’s customer service centres in Campbeltown following the Scottish Government’s Summer Cabinet, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It is already clear that the UK Government’s benefit reform programme unfairly impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of our
society.

“However this report also shows there are adverse consequences for women, particularly mothers and their children, who could be worse off due to Westminster’s welfare cuts.

“We are doing what we can, within the powers and resources we have, to help people in Scotland who are affected by these unfair reforms. This includes providing an additional £9.2 million towards our new £33 million Scottish Welfare Fund. The new fund has already helped more than 20,000 people, and has the capacity to support around 200,000.

“However, mitigating the whole range of these cuts will simply not be possible. The only solution is for this Parliament to have full powers of independence so that we can devise policies to benefit the Scottish people and ensure fair and decent support for all.”

Notes to editors

The analysis is available here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/analysis/welfarereformanalysisgenderimpact

The Scottish Welfare Fund provides grants to the disabled, elderly, lone parents and other vulnerable groups. Based on guidance from the Scottish Government, the Fund is delivered by local authorities. Further details about the Fund and how to apply can be found at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/scottishwelfarefund