‘The childcare system in England is not fit for purpose and is failing to meet the needs of parents, children and the economy.’
This is from an October 2018 update to the Women’s Budget Group (WBG)’s briefings on the gender impact of policy, made ahead of the year’s Autumn Budget.
The updates to the WBG’s policy briefings span areas including: childcare, disability, education, employment/public sector pay, health, housing, parental leave, pensions, savings, social care, social security, taxation, trade and investment, transport, and violence against women and girls. Key takeaways in these areas include:
- Disability: Multiple changes since 2010 reduced the generosity and the scope of disability and incapacity benefits. This has a disproportionate impact on women as disabled women are majority of claimants (55%).
- Education: The shift to funding higher education teaching through tuition fees and loans is having a disproportionate adverse impact on women. Women pay a significantly larger proportion of their income back in loan repayments than men, because of the gender pay gap in graduate occupations and due to time out of the workforce for unpaid care.
- Health: As a result of continued underfunding, health services remain severely strained and women – as the majority of patients, staff and unpaid carers – have borne the brunt of these impacts.
- Housing: 67% of adults in households accepted as statutorily homeless are women, reflecting their risk of loss of secure housing, and their responsibility for caring for children.
- Parental leave: UK maternity, paternity and parental leave policy design is based on an out-of-date model that does not encourage sharing of care between parents.
- Pensions: Private pension schemes, promoted and subsidised by UK governments, are the main reason for the gender gap in pensions, placing women at a disadvantage due to their domestic roles and lower pay.
- Social care: Women bear the brunt of the care crisis. The majority of the care workforce, paid and unpaid, are women and the majority of those in need of care are women.
- Violence against women and girls: 1.2 million women suffer domestic violence each year. The government’s VAWG strategy recognises the scale of the problem, but is not backed with sufficient funding for either victims’ services or preventive interventions to reduce the incidence of VAWG in the longer term.