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Women lose out at every turn because of these policies

Readers' letters | Published:

Government statistics showed women in poor parts of England are dying sooner.

Between 2012 and 2017, women (but not men) in England’s most deprived neighbourhoods lost more than three months of their expected lifespan.

This is shocking but not surprising to Shrewsbury Labour Women’s Forum. Women have borne the brunt of the Conservative government’s austerity policy, both the drastic cuts to public services and the “welfare reforms”.

The closure of council-run nurseries and child care services, Sure Start Centres, and social care for elderly or disabled people all hit women hardest, both because they tend to be employed in those services, and because they are more likely to take on extra unpaid care when services are withdrawn.

The pay gap between men and women is still a whopping 17 per cent, and women are more likely to be in insecure jobs, and on zero hours contracts. Women are getting into deeper and longer lasting debt because they cannot make ends meet.

Two thirds of the people struggling with debt in the UK are now women (Money Advice Service). Universal Credit has replaced tax credits in Shrewsbury. Across the UK this change means 600,000 working single parents in low-paid jobs, more than nine in 10 of them women, will lose an average of £16 a week.

And because they are poorer, women are less likely to own cars and so depend on dwindling and ever more expensive public transport.

As Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty who published a report on poverty in the UK last year, said: “If you got a bunch of misogynists in a room and got them to come up with a system that works for men and not for women, you wouldn’t come up with something very different from existing system.”

Frankie Rickford, On behalf of Shrewsbury Labour Party Women’s Forum

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