Osborne’s economic attacks on women reflect a wider Tory problem

The Mirror this morning recount the different ways women are under attack from the coalition's economic policy, reports Left Foot Forward's Daniel Elton.

The Mirror this morning – in true tabloid style – recounts the different ways women are under attack from the coalition’s economic policy.


These include:

• Five hundred thousand women face a two-year delay on collecting their pension – costing them £15,000 each – being given only five years’ notice as opposed to the ten years’ notice recommended by Age UK, the Turner report and the Pensions Policy Institute;

• The threshold for enrolling in a company pension scheme is being raised to £10,000, depriving 1.5 million from decent pensions – mainly those on part-time and and low-paid jobs who are dispropoportionately women;

• Cutting childcare tax credits;

• Abolishing pregnancy health grants;

Cutting the budget for Sure Start centres putting hundreds of centres of risk.

The Mirror reports how the cuts, taken as a whole, hit women far harder than men:

“Chancellor George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan is taking £4.20 a week on average from men and £8.40 a week from women says Labour’s equality spokeswoman Yvette Cooper. Campaigners say women are also unfairly penalised by the Government’s cuts to public services. Women make up 65% of the workforce in schools, hospitals and local government. And in the NHS 73% of the staff are women.

“Benefit cuts are also hitting women the hardest – with one million reliant on housing benefit to keep a roof over their heads. And cutbacks to crucial services such as social care and meals on wheels mean many are having to take on additional caring duties for elderly family members.”

Left Foot Forward has reported before on the Conservative’s cultural problem around gender issues – from David Willetts’s bizarre assertion that the decline in social mobility was down to feminism rather than, let’s say, the policies of successive governments, to Cameron’s patronising manner at Prime Minister’s Questions.

There is Nadine Dorries’s Private Members’ Bill that implies that unwanted teenage pregnancies are entirely the fault of the girls involved and nothing to do with the boys, and Ken Clarke’s crassness in talking about rape. We must not forgot Domic Raab MP’s bizarre collumn for politicsHome website where he asserted:

“Take the gender pay gap. The fascinating thing is just how sexist champions [of reducing it] have become… Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.”

These gender ‘blindspots’ can be dismissed as unimportant in the grand scheme of things as how they affect public policy. But given the disdain for feminists in the Conservative party, the easy way Tories appear to slip into gender stereotyping or appear to take a too easygoing attitude to issues that affect women, it may not come as a suprise that the economic policy carried out by a coalition dominated by Osborne’s party affects women disproportionately.

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