The Scottish Government will build the new welfare system while factoring in gender disparities in pay, structural employment and safety
JEANE FREEMAN, minister for social security for the Scottish Government, has said that the new welfare powers coming to Scotland will be subject to gender assessments.
The announcement, made at the annual STUC women’s conference in Perth, follows a long campaign by charities who have stated that women who bear the brunt of austerity cuts to welfare, public services and overwhelmingly take part in undervalued unpaid labour, should have these structural inequalities addressed formally in the welfare system.
Groups such as Engender and Close the Gap have commented that they hope the Scottish Government commit additionally to split universal credit which would secure the degree of financial autonomy women have either in or out of work.
“Language matters and the system that we will put in place will not degrade people.” Jeane Freeman
Freeman said: “It [welfare and social security] are an investment we make in ourselves and each other.
For example, so many women face a financial cliff edge due to restrictions ad narrow eligibility of carers allowance.
“Language matters and the system that we will put in place will not degrade people. Such Victorian attitudes are insulting and damaging.”
However, the minister did state that even though in her opinion, universal credit payments should be paid separately rather than to the “main breadwinner”, this would likely result in extra charges being incurred the Department of Work and Pensions (DwP). Freeman did say that she was absolutely “committed to split universal payments of universal credit in principle.”
“For example, so many women face a financial cliff edge due to restrictions ad narrow eligibility of carers allowance.” Jeane Freeman
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 breadwinner, which diminishes the financial autonomy of women already hit by government cuts as well as placing women suffering domestic abuse at greater risk.
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.
Picture courtesy of Cindy Douglas
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