The gendered impact of the emergency Budget

// 24 June 2010

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The cuts have started, the emergency Budget is out. As Fawcett sets out the cuts are going to hit women hard.

As Ceri Goddard says:

Reducing women’s economic security in this way risks rolling back on women’s independence – as more women are forced to rely on their families and the state for financial support.

Against a backdrop of unequal pay – women are still paid 16.4 per cent less for full time work and 35 per cent less for part time work than men – the impact on women will be huge.

The LibCon coalition’s attempts to portray this as a “progressive” budget ring hollow indeed (and an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies concludes what a layperson might conclude, that the budget is in fact regressive (and even the Financial Times money supply blog agrees).

The macroeconomic picture is one thing, but Lisa’s story about the impact of the cuts on her particularly demonstrates on an individual level what this means.

Photo of union protest against cuts earlier this week by staticgirl, shared under a Creative Commons license on Flickr

Comments From You

gadgetgal // Posted 24 June 2010 at 8:33 pm

I feel this right now – as I’ve mentioned before I’ve not been commenting much because I was laid off a few months ago. I’ve had a couple of temp jobs since then, although I’ve managed to get on a contract which will hopefully last the next 6 months. Hopefully! What a word! I was laid off from a job I’d had for nearly 10 years, that I’d worked hard at, and I was good at, that got me my little house, a small wedding, one cheap car, a couple of cats and the possibility that maybe one day soon I could start my own family. I’m now on a contract for 6 months tops on literally half the pay I was on before, with no possibility of even meeting the bills I owe from the less-than-a-month that I wasn’t working. I didn’t live beyond my means, I had two holidays in 10 years, a mortgage, the usual utilities, and I went to the pub once a week – that’s not a lot for a 45-plus hour week.

I didn’t ask for much – in fact what I had was what I asked for. Enough to have a reasonable life and then maybe some kind of reasonable future. No one will hire me permanently because I’m of child-bearing age and just married, but how will I ever be able to have a child if no one will employ me? I can’t even claim most benefits because I was stupid enough to buy my own house. So the choices are either carry on as is, getting jobs when I can and no family, or quit, lose my house, and no family. What’s the difference?

I was told by my (ex) boss a few years ago to hold off on having kids until his business was off the ground – my choice then was either a child or a job. Now because of that my choices are gone, and I’ve got neither one.

It doesn’t pay to be anyone in this recession, but it really never pays to be a woman, recession or not.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 24 June 2010 at 10:55 pm

Gadgetgirl- I feel you. I have been very fortunate to continue to get contracts post-phd, but they are all temporary. There are no permanent jobs out there in academia, and with all the public sector cuts, I don’t see any forthcoming in the near future.

And, it makes me wonder how I can ever have children. If you get pregnant during a temporary contract, you often aren’t entitled to maternity anyway (depending on the length), but as importantly, as it is all project work and they run to tight deadlines, if you screw up a project, you are not going to get your next job.

So, do you give up the career that you have spent ten years training for and 90+ hours a week working for to have children? That compromise would drive me nuts. But, at the same time, what’s the point of hanging in to a career where you have no future. And, what career out there at the moment doesn’t have a million other people in the same boat.

polly // Posted 25 June 2010 at 6:35 am

“”No one will hire me permanently because I’m of child-bearing age and just married,””

Unfortunately it’s true gadgetgal that if you look like you’re a woman who MIGHT get pregnant that lots of places won’t hire you. (I don’t know what sector you work in, some are worse than others). BUT you shouldn’t have to disclose your marital status on an application form. It’s been illegal to discriminate against someone on the ground they’re married since the 1970’s FFS. And if you’re asked about whether you plan to have children in an interview, I’d say that you think that’s irrelevant and ask if they ask male candidates the same question, because if they’re just asking women, they’re breaking the law. Yes you probably still won’t get the job, but at least you’ll have pointed out to them that they’re doing something illegal.

The public sector (though it’s by no means perfect) has always been a major employer of women for the reason that they do tend to have slightly better employment practices in this regard (for instance when interviewing, we only ever ask job related questions and all candidates are asked the same questions, and you’re supposed to hire the best ranked candidate regardless). So cuts in the public sector as an employer are going to hit women hard.

FeminaErecta // Posted 25 June 2010 at 3:22 pm

I work for the public sector in libraries, a veeeerrrry femocentric profession. For this reason I’m not scared of losing my job, or any thing like that. I just get paid fuck all.

I feel for you gadgetgirl, being unemployed is horrible. Don’t let the B*stards grind you down, is all I can really say!

gadgetgal // Posted 25 June 2010 at 7:33 pm

Hi Feminist Avatar, polly and FeminaErecta – thanks for the support, I just REALLY needed to vent the other day. And it’s true, the choices at the moment all seem to be unemployment or crappy pay for women! It’s always made me angry, mainly because I’ve always done contract work in engineering (so our situations are really similar Feminist Avatar, yay big up the contracting chimps!!). For a guy it’s ok, he generally doesn’t have to consider things like maternity leave, or worry too much about lack of sick pay or one week notice redundancy because in this sector they can just walk into another job more easily and on really good money. Employers don’t ask you directly if you’re married, but they spot the ring, and even if I leave it off they will err on the side of caution when it comes to women of my age. The private sector is appalling, there are supposed to be laws that protect workers but if you’re contract or temp you don’t generally qualify for that kind of protection because you’re not legally considered to be a worker, and even the laws that you CAN turn to aren’t enforced because the government would rather have business money than happy individuals!

I won’t say it’s only women suffering, and of the dozen or so people at my company who got laid off I’m the only one who’s managed to find any kind of work, but considering most engineering firms are mainly men it’s amazing how they managed to make so many of their female contractors redundant whilst saving mainly the men. Apparently we’re just more expendable, since we couldn’t possibly be the main breadwinners, and the average white middle class male manager-type is so much more important to keep on! They have second homes and jags to pay for, you know…

Sorry, more vitriol – this weekend I’ve decided that I’m just going to be thankful I still have a roof over my head and I can just about feed my husband and my cats (to hell with the bills, food is far more important)! And then next week I will plot my revolution – I probably won’t put it into action, but it definitely makes the time pass much more agreeably lately. There’s never any bloodshed but there’s usually lots of singing and dancing, and a fair few politicians and bankers running the gauntlet of rotten fruit!! Ahh, happy thoughts…

Anon // Posted 4 July 2010 at 5:23 pm

The libraries comment is bang on: Yep, fuck all pay, term time only contracts, and in both public and academic libraries now, the distinct possibility of being replaced by machines. It’s the ones who studied to be qualified Librarians I feel sorry for….

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