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NIC ICTU Welfare Reform Conference 1 st October 2014 Lynn Carvill WOMEN’STEC / Reclaim the Agenda / Women’s Regional Consortium Welfare Reform ‘The Empty.

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Presentation on theme: "NIC ICTU Welfare Reform Conference 1 st October 2014 Lynn Carvill WOMEN’STEC / Reclaim the Agenda / Women’s Regional Consortium Welfare Reform ‘The Empty."— Presentation transcript:

1 NIC ICTU Welfare Reform Conference 1 st October 2014 Lynn Carvill WOMEN’STEC / Reclaim the Agenda / Women’s Regional Consortium Welfare Reform ‘The Empty Purse Campaign’

2  Financial Impact of Welfare Reform on Women  Universal Credit  The Empty Purse Campaign

3 To address the National Budget Deficit – cuts made to social security and tax benefits hit women hard (especially pregnant women, single mothers and female single pensioners)  Abolishment of the health in pregnancy grant  Sure Start maternity grant only paid for first child  Three year freeze on child benefit  Child Trust funds to be phased out  Child Tax Credit Baby Element abolished  Lowering of threshold for family element of child tax credit  Working tax Credit (Childcare Element) % of childcare costs reduced from 80% to 70 % 3

4 House Of Commons Researchers analysed the emergency budget to assess the distribution between women and men Of £8billion changes to direct taxes and benefits to raise revenue..... Women would pay £5.8 billion to Men’s £2.2 billion. Cumulatively, impacts of cuts and alterations have fallen on women and (often by extension) children - 2010 Emergency budget - almost 72% of cuts bourne by women 4

5  Our concern - welfare and tax credit alterations have resulted in a reduction in women’s income, their capacity to work and barriers to realising economic autonomy and achieving equality and personal security.

6 In the UK one-fifth of women’s income is made up of benefits/tax credits compared with one-tenth of male earnings. Women are disproportionately reliant on social security to subsidise their income as they often must fit their working life around their caring responsibilities Women much more likely to work part – time and/or be in low paid jobs...they are more likely to be the parent who is juggling paid employment with domestic responsibilities Low and subsidised income follows women into older age – pension entitlement

7 Usually paid to the mother Couples with child-caring responsibilities must work 24 hours a week (between them) rather than 16 24,000 households in NI lost entitlement to tax credits on 6 th April 2012 7

8 Universal benefit almost 100% paid to the mother Child benefit levels frozen for 3 years (not rising with inflation) Universality of child benefit abolished Originally planned to withdraw CB from households where one person paid higher rate of tax Now households where one person earns over £60,000 will lose entitlement to CB. Earners over £50,000 will lose some. 8

9 Universal Credit will combine various existing out of work and in work benefits into a single means-tested super benefit, including benefits for children and housing. Including Income based JSA/ESA, Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credits Housing Benefit.

10 3 key issues: Universal Credit – incentivise work/make work pay? Universal Credit – ‘Who’ it is paid to? Universal Credit – Frequency of payment?

11 Central aims: to create a simpler system and to improve work incentives Policy Aim: ‘The intention is to promote the fact that work always pays and to incentivise individuals to enter the labour market’ Issue: ‘Universal Credit is designed to encourage work at a household level....’

12 Universal Credit will financially incentivise one worker/earner in a household – likely to be the male For second earners (likely to be women) there will be a financial disincentive if they work more than 10 hours a week. This will erode women’s economic independence and enforce dependence on their partner It is encouraging the male breadwinner / female homemaker model and regressing women’s equality.

13 Government’s response to this...... ‘Universal Credit will be calculated to incentivise work at a household level......Because the reward is for the first person into work, there is some second earners might choose to reduce or rebalance their hours more in line with their families needs. The Government believes that any such risk of decreased work incentives for women in couples is justified.’

14 Policy aims: ‘In the same way as people can choose where their salary is paid, people on Universal Credit will be able to choose who their benefit is paid to within the household....’ (EQIA) Issue: Universal Credit will be paid to ‘one nominated person’ in the household designated as the main applicant. Main applicant... likely to be the main earner... likely to be the man

15  Transfer of resources from the purse to the wallet. Will result in many women having no direct access to financial resources  Evidence shows money spent from purse much more likely to spent on children’s needs than money from the wallet  Exacerbate problems in households where there is domestic violence. 1 in 4 women will experience some kind of domestic violence in their lifetime  Financial abuse is a recognised part of domestic violence.

16  Universal Credit will be paid monthly to a nominated person in the household  Ostensibly to mirror the payment of wages..... but almost half the people on low income are paid on a weekly basis.  Monthly payments may not fit well with the budgeting patterns of low income families  Key concern is that low income families will be driven into (further debt).

17  Universal Credit should be paid to the main carer/second earner in the household.  In workless households Universal Credit should be split  Recipients should be able to decide on frequency of payment eg. fortnightly or monthly to fit in with their household budgetary needs

18  Moving from Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance when youngest child is 5  Eventually ‘conditionality’ will apply when youngest child is 1  Childcare – the missing support

19 The Campaign....

20 Ensuring there is a robust evidence base

21 Informing women at grassroots level – spreading the message with ‘Reclaim The Agenda’


23 Working through Assembly structures – DSD committee

24 Taking our message to political party conferences


26 Activism - Protesting

27 Empty Purse Protest - Stormont



30 Empty Purse Campaign

31 @lynncarvill

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