#BUDGET2017: Green MSP launches women and welfare summit

Women are experiencing austerity and welfare reform disproportionately a Green MSP will warn today (22 Nov) at a meeting of academics and third sector experts on the day of the UK government’s budget.

Organised by Alison Johnstone MSP, the summit at Holyrood will bring together anti-poverty campaigners, women's rights organisations and frontline service providers to address, what she calls, the “devastating impact” years of austerity have had on women's incomes, health and opportunities.

This summit aims to raise awareness among women about how years of Westminster austerity have unfairly impacted upon them, and to consider how the Scottish Parliament and government should use new social security powers to counteract this enforced, gendered austerity.

Alison, the Greens’ social security spokesperson, is calling on the Scottish Government to protect vulnerable families from the benefit cap, which affects over 11,000 children in Scotland.

Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone said:

“Research indicates that 70% to 85% of cuts to public spending on benefits, taxation, pay and pensions between 2010 and 2015 come from women's incomes.  The grossly disproportionate impact of welfare reform and austerity on women's lives cannot be tolerated.  From the unacceptable two-child limit on tax credits and universal credit, the vile rape clause, and the unjust benefit cap, the changes we have seen visited on our social security system would have seemed unthinkable decade ago.  It is shameful that any government should target women and their families in this way.

“The poorest families have lost the most and analysis by the Women's Budget Group shows that low income black and Asian women are paying the highest price for austerity.  Carers and households where one or more family members has a disability have also been unfairly affected by cuts to support.

“Anti-poverty campaigners are calling on the chancellor to finally end the benefits freeze, which has lost 700,000 families in Scotland a total of £300 million in essential income.  Thousands of families are being plunged into poverty and child poverty is predicted to rise so we need urgent change.”