Record numbers of women claim Jobseekers’ Allowance as unemployment rises

// 18 February 2011

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The number of women claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance has risen 12%, meaning the number of women aged 25-49 claiming the unemployment benefit is at its highest since records began in 1997, according to the latest numbers from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment is now at 2.49 million. Some are predicting unemployment could rise to 2.8 million.

Anna Bird, acting chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said the figures show that “our worst fears are being realised” over the disproportionate effect of the cuts on women. She said:

Slashing at the public sector workforce inevitably hits women hardest – 65 per cent of public sector workers are women, and they are concentrated in the low paid, low grade and insecure work most under threat.

The figures out today are the tip of the iceberg as cuts are only just beginning to bite. The rising numbers of women facing unemployment are also coping with capped or frozen benefits and the rolling back of many public services that they access more frequently and more intensively than men. By themselves, these changes will blight numerous lives, taken together they add up to a disastrous blow for women’s equality.

Women face a triple jeopardy of cuts to jobs, benefits and services that have over recent years helped to narrow the gender gap. In the run up to the next budget, we urge the Chancellor and Coalition Government to address the disproportionate impact of their economic policy so that hard-fought gains in women’s employment and economic rights are not squandered.

One spark of relief, however: the Coalition has dropped plans to cut housing benefit by 10% for anyone unemployed for more than a year. National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr welcomed the announcement:

It is excellent news that ministers have listened to organisations such as the Federation and dropped the proposal to punish the unemployed by cutting their housing benefit if they have been out of work for more than a year.

We felt the plan would have been unfair and unjust – as it would have punished the unemployed regardless of how few jobs there are in their local area and how hard they have looked for work.

No Government saying that it will look after the vulnerable could possibly have introduced such a harsh measure.

Photo of anti-cuts sign, shared under a Creative Commons license by lewishamdreamer

Comments From You

maggie // Posted 18 February 2011 at 4:22 pm

While this report makes for depressing reading it comes as no shock to me. I would also add that due to the nature of my volunteering work I’ve also noticed that it’s not only women who are in low paid jobs either.

While the plans to shelve the 10% cut in housing benefit is indeed welcome, it is in comparison crumbs from the table. A table where millionaires sup and who will never feel the sharp edge of these cuts.

Protests are all very well, but the ema allowance is not going to be reinstated. The current libdem government will cherry pick their u-turns (the forests sell off debacle being one), but the feisty student protests didn’t achieve a u-turn re the ema allowance. Sadly.

Make your vote count in the forth coming council elections is all I can advise.

Jane // Posted 19 February 2011 at 12:03 am

No, no, no…don’t need to hear this.

I’ve been unemployed for 3 years now. I hear about benefit cuts daily, I get called lazy for not being able to find work, I get told I shouldn’t want a career, I get forced to work for free rather than being able to find work, pulled out of college, I get prejudice from job centre staff, I get told that my disadvantages shouldn’t prevent me from working while at the same time having the job centre using these disadvantages to keep me out of work…every day is a kick in the teeth.

It’s bad enough that I’m facing all this, along with prejudice due to my age (over 25), the fact I’m disabled (asperger’s is particularly discriminated against in the current benefit system, no support to find work but don’t qualify for ESA), but now I’m having to hear about issues due to my gender/sex too?!

Lets not also forget that women are most likely to be the ones who have children to support or who are at higher risk by living in lower income housing in poor areas. Not that I have children, I can’t bloody afford them :’-(

Sarah // Posted 21 February 2011 at 11:03 am

It’s not so great being under 25 either… I’ve had little to no help from the job centre in finding work. I’m volunteering at the moment but got mainly incomprehension from the people at the job centre about this and was told I had to fill out a form which later turned out to be incorrect, which delayed my JSA for about a month. So much for incentives to volunteer! Also, if you’re under 25, you qualify for less JSA than someone over 25 and you’re also not entitled to tax credits unless you’ve got kids. People wonder why so many young people still live with their parents… I don’t myself, but it’s certainly been an uphill struggle since I was made redundant last year.

I’m battling an illness too but luckily I am still able to work, which I’m grateful for because I genuinely enjoy having a job. However, I spend most of my days paralysed with terror over ending up working somewhere I hate which will exacerbate my illness. People say you have to remain positive but I’m so angry about these cuts. I’m a lot luckier than some but there are a lot of days when I truly don’t feel like getting out of bed because I’ve lost hope.

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