Tory plans to cut a further £12bn from the welfare budget will hit women in Britain much harder than men, experts have predicted.
Even though the government is yet to detail exactly where the welfare axe will fall, debt advice experts predict that 80% of those cuts will directly affect some of the poorest women in the country.
Cuts will deepen the suffering of vulnerable women who are already struggling to make ends meet, says the debt advisory service Trust Deed Scotland. Promoting a ‘change in behaviour’ through austerity measures will not address underlying poverty issues.
Documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper suggest where some of the cuts may fall. Capping child benefit to two children and removing housing benefit from under 25’s would make it more difficult for low-income working people to claim state aid.
It’s also rumoured that the government may force employers to contribute more to the cost of statutory maternity pay, or abolish it completely – directly affecting women.
Experts agree that the poorest women in the UK will continue to be disproportionately affected by deep post-recession cuts. Single parents, most of whom are women, in receipt of social security benefits may be encouraged into work when their child reaches the age of three. This comes at a time when one in five parents are considering giving up work due to soaring childcare costs.
The controversial and widely hated bedroom tax may also be extended to hit a further one million households, with women being the most predominantly affected once again.
Some of the poorest families are set to lose around £800 in benefits a year, pushing them into the arms of doorstep lenders and loan sharks, resulting in even deeper debt and poverty.
A spokesperson from Trust Deed Scotland said: “The election results have certainly raised an extensive number of concerns. Austerity and poverty is a major issue and the cuts could be catastrophic for susceptible women all across the UK.
“For women living in Scotland, the increased cuts may be a cause for major financial concern. It is highly recommended that those women who are already struggling financially should seek free, expert financial advice to prevent against the crippling effects that borrowing and debt can have.”