Organisations call for women to make their voice heard against austerity
WOMEN’S and equalities groups have called out to women across Scotland to contribute their views to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Social Security.
The call follows the new powers that will be transferred to the Scottish Government as a result of Scotland Act 2016.
Advocates against austerity and women’s rights campaigners have argued that the consultation is a key chance to let the Scottish Government know that reforms to maternity pay and Universal Credit (UC) are key to tackling the disproportionate effects of austerity on women.
“The Scottish Government now has a real opportunity to embed women’s equality as a core objective in social security policy.” Dr Marsha Scott
Emma Ritch, executive director of Engender, said: “Women are twice as dependent on social security as men, and it’s therefore vital the Scotland’s new social security system has women’s equality at its heart. We’re encouraged by the Scottish Government’s pledge to ensure Scotland has a social security system based on dignity and respect, but there must be a recognition that household payments of Universal Credit undermines this pledge.
“It is fantastic that the Scottish Government are consulting on the future of Social Security in Scotland, giving all women in Scotland the opportunity to have their say. Women can access support to fill out the consultation at Engender”
According to research by a coalition of organisations including Engender, Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA), Carers Scotland (CS), Close the Gap and the Scottish Refugee Council (SRG) the vast majority of cuts, 86 per cent, made by the UK Government to the benefits and tax credit systems between 2010 and 2020 will have come from women’s incomes.
An example of this is the paying of UC to one individual, often presuming a male bread winner, which diminishes the fininacial autonomy of women already hit by government cuts as well as placing women suffering domestic abuse at greater risk.
All this, says groups like SWA, relates heavily to the recently proposed new domestic abuse law which seeks to deal with coercive behaviour which often means financial manipulation and abuse.
In 2013, the UN Convention on women’s rights (CEDAW) committee recommended that the UK take action to prevent the potential harm to women caused by household payments of Universal Credit in its ‘concluding observations’ on its examination of the UK
“Women are twice as dependent on social security as men, and it’s therefore vital the Scotland’s new social security system has women’s equality at its heart.” Emma Ritch
Dr Marsh Scott, chief executive of SWA, said: “We see every day the impact of the cuts to social security on the women and children that Women’s Aid supports. The Scottish Government now has a real opportunity to embed women’s equality as a core objective in social security policy.
“The single household payment of Universal Credit is a backwards step for women and replicates the very patriarchal values and structures that are the cause and consequence of domestic abuse.
“Research suggests that 89 per cent of all women who are abused by a partner, experience financial abuse as part of domestic abuse. To cut off what is, for many women, their only independent income is clearly short-sighted, unhelpful, and dangerous. The single household payment will increase women's financial dependence and place them at increased risk.
“We would encourage all women in Scotland to take the opportunity to fill out the Scottish Government consultation, show support for individual payments of Universal Credit, and have their say on the future of social security.”
The Scottish Government consultation is open until October 28th.
Picture courtesy of Engender
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