These groups will be hit hardest by changes to Universal Credit

Yet again, changes to the benefit system will be disproportionately detrimental to women and people from ethnic minority groups.

Women and people from ethnic minority groups will be hurt the most by changes to Universal Credit, according to a new analysis. 

The report, by the Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust, analysed the impact of a series of changes to Universal Credit announced in 2015 and 2016, including a cut to the work allowance and the two-child limit.

Women will face the worst of the cuts, the analysis found, with 2.2 million claimants in employment expected to lose an average of £1,400 a year and 3.6 million claimants not in employment set to lose an average £600 a year.

Black employed women will lose the most, an average of £1500 a year — and families with children will be worse off than households without children.

The findings should come as no surprise: Tory cuts almost always disproportionately harm women and ethnic minorities.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds are twice as likely to live in poverty in the UK and from the onset austerity has hit the poorest the hardest.

The specific nature of cuts to benefits has also disproportionately impacted people with caring responsibilities, the vast majority of whom are women.

In fact, it is predicted that women will have born the brunt of 85% of detrimental changes to taxes and benefits made by 2020.

Mary-Ann Stephenson Co-director of the Women’s Budget Group said of the report:

“Again, our analysis of Universal credit claimants shows the devastating impact that austerity is having on women and BME women in particular.

“The government should take urgent action to put the roll out of Universal Credit on hold until it is fit for purpose, end the benefit freeze. In particular it should lift the arbitrary two child cap that is a direct attack on the human rights of younger siblings.”

The Green Party has said the new report “lays bare the cruelty of the system” being imposed by the Government.

Amelia Womack, Green Party deputy leader, said:

“Universal Credit is nothing more than an attack on Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable and this report lays bare the cruelty of the system. Women are being punished simply for being women, with BME women suffering the most. There is nothing either universal or credit-worthy about Universal Credit.

“The Green Party is calling for the Government to scrap Universal Credit and invest in a Universal Basic Income trial instead, which would make much more of a difference to families living in poverty.”

The analysis provides yet more evidence that UC is harmful and austerity cuts discriminatory. But we knew this already. What we need to know now is when the Tories are going to start providing for the people who need help most?

Charlotte England is a freelance journalist and writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.