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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Appointment of More Women to UK Cabinet "Does not Compensate for Cuts"

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

IMPACT OF WELFARE REFORM ON WOMEN HIGHLIGHTED

Following David Cameron's attempts to bring more women into the UK Cabinet, the SNP is today highlighting the fact that women bear the brunt of UK Government welfare cuts.

Evidence of Westminster's failure on welfare continues to mount up, with UK Government's own report - sneaked out during yesterday's reshuffle - admitting that Bedroom Tax has failed with only 4.5 per cent of those impacted moving to a smaller property and 59 per cent in arrears.

Research from the House of Commons Library has shown that out of a total of £4bn of welfare cuts coming to Scotland in 2014/15 – 69 per cent of the impact will fall on women.

As well as this, a report published this week highlights young women are likely to be among the hardest hit by Tory cuts. The report from the IFS and Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds young adults are bearing the brunt of the recession - and that 58 per cent of these young people are women, with a high percentage in paid employment. Many of these women will also have dependent children.

And despite Tory claims that the reshuffle is a step forward, women still make up less than 25 per cent of the UK Cabinet, while 40 per cent of Scottish Cabinet members are women.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“For four years, David Cameron’s Government has presided over cuts which have hit women the hardest. While it is always welcome to see progress made on equality, the appointment of more women to Cabinet does not compensate for the impact of his welfare reforms on women in Scotland. What is needed is action to help women in Scotland who are suffering 69 per cent of the impact of unfair Tory welfare cuts.

"Evidence that Westminster is failing our women and young people grows by the day. We have already seen a 400 per cent increase in the number of people relying on food banks as a result of Westminster’s obsession with dismantling the welfare state, and now the UK Government's own report on Bedroom Tax - sneaked out during the reshuffle - finds 59 per cent of those hit by Bedroom Tax are in arrears. This week's report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also highlights the impact Tory cuts are having on young people - and a majority are women.

“The Scottish Government is doing what it can to mitigate the impact of welfare cuts, but with the full powers of independence we could do so much more. In an independent Scotland we can not only build a welfare state that is a tool to tackle poverty and is a springboard to a better life – we can also take action to offer more opportunities for women. Our plans to transform childcare will help more parents – particularly women – back into work.

“We have also committed to ensuring women are not disadvantaged by the welfare system in the way the UK Government’s plans do.

“As Scotland’s Future makes clear, the Scottish Government is committed to building an equal Scotland. Women make up 40 per cent of the members of the Scottish Cabinet and just last month, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon held the first all-women Scottish Cabinet event, which brought together women from 130 organisations across Scotland.

“But we can’t allow Westminster to keep holding back progress on tackling inequality. Only a Yes vote will enable us to tackle inequality and poverty, and further empower women in the process.”

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