Women's Budget Group - "Budget promises ‘jam tomorrow’ but little real change"

WBG members met yesterday to view and analyse the Autumn Budget live! We had an excellent turnout and a really productive discussion about the gender impact of the various measures included. We published our initial response within 2 hours of the Budget announcement finishing!

In response to the Autumn Budget Statement Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group said today:

This was supposed to be the end of austerity budget. But for many of those hit hardest by austerity the Chancellor’s speech promised ‘jam tomorrow’, but not enough real change to improve their lives today. 

The NHS, education system, care system and family budgets are all stretched to breaking point.  What we saw today was a series of relatively minor announcements which failed to address underlying issues. We were promised more in next year’s spending review, but the Chancellor’s promise of 1.2% increase in spending in real terms will just cover the promises made on the NHS and leave nothing over for other public services.

Even the weak growth projections are dependent on achieving a good Brexit deal, which is by no means certain.

On health
The additional £20bn a year in five years has already been welcomed, but as the Kings Fund has pointed out,  does not come close to the amount required to improve services after years of underfunding.

Additional funding for mental health is sorely needed but the focus on crisis services, doesn’t address the cause of an increase in people with mental health problems presenting at A&E, which is the continued underfunding of community based services.

On social care,
Social care is focused only on the impact on the NHS. It does nothing for the 1.2million who are receiving no help at all with their care needs. 40% of local authority spending goes on social care, so without action to tackle the underfunding of local government it will be impossible to address the social care crisis.  Again, social care has been treated as a non urgent problem that can wait for an ever delayed Green paper.

On Universal Credit
We welcome the increase in the work allowance, which will benefit low paid women. However nothing has been done to address the benefit freeze, the two child limit or the cuts to Local Housing Allowance that are pushing families into poverty

On tax
There were a series of tax cuts that will largely benefit men. The continued freeze to fuel duty will cost £9bn by 2021/22, cuts to alcohol duties will cost £175m by 2021/22, the freeze to personal tax allowances will cost £1.4bn a year by 2021/22. ~

We’ll now start work on our full Budget analysis, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of so many of our members. Our robust, hard-hitting analysis relies so much on the time and effort our members put in, free of charge, and we are incredibly grateful. Stay tuned for more updated in the coming days!





Other Business


EHRCs ‘Is Britain Fairer? 2018’ report
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Is Britain Fairer? 2018’ report is being made available from 25 October in order to inform responses to the public consultation on their new Strategic Plan, which they will launch at the beginning of November. View the report via their website.

Help the Feminist Library build its new home!
The Feminist Library has started a campaign to try and raise £30,000 in order to move to a new premises in Peckham. Anything you can donate will help to safeguard this precious resource and vital community space for years to come. Visit their Crowdfunder page for more info

Laurel Weldon to give Annual Lecture of UNESCO Gender Chair: 31 October
This year's lecture will focus on ‘Women’s global activism against violence as a source of change’, and will be delivered by Laurel Weldon, Professor of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. It will take place in central London. For more details and to book a place, visit the UNESCO website.

Transforming the Response to Domestic Violence Conference: 3 December
Chaired by Jo Todd Chief Executive Respect, this CPD certified national conference will provide practical guidance for supporting effective implementation of the Bill including; improving recognition and response to domestic violence, including supporting victims, improving the way MARACs work, information sharing, and working with perpetrators. More information here.

Lunchtime discussion: The gender pay gap and beyond: 7 November, 12pm
Understanding Society are hosting a lunch-time discussion event on the topic of gender equality and the gender pay gap on Wednesday 7th November 2018 in Central London. The event will bring together policy makers, charities, business organisations, researchers and campaigners to discuss some of the key issues around the gender pay gap. For more details and to register, visit the site.


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