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2011 National Women's Conference
12 January 2011

Conference welcomes the news that the TUC has called a national demonstration for 26 March 2011 and understands that opposition to the austerity measures is gradually building up in the UK with demonstrations having already taken place as well as lobbies of Parliament and protests nationwide following the Con Dem announcement of eighty three billion pounds public spending cuts. The national demonstration is part of the TUC All Together for Public Services campaign.

There are already signs that cuts in public spending are having an adverse impact on job prospects for women, with the unemployment rate for women now at seven per cent, higher than at any point since the start of the jobs recession in 2008.

As Brendan Barber has stated “Female unemployment has been rising for over a year and hit a twenty two year high this autumn. WIth the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting five hundred thousand further job losses in the female dominated public sector, women look likely to suffer rising joblessness for some time to come.”

Conference notes the effects of the public sector cuts and the welfare reforms on women to be:

1)Services: With Local Governments facing twenty seven per cent cuts, women are more likely to be hit by the cuts to local services and in particularly social care.

2)Employment: Women’s jobs are being more heavily hit with over five hundred thousand likely to go in the public sector alone where sixty five per cent of the workforce is women.

3)Child support: Where cuts in childcare, tax, credits and child benefit – it will make it harder for women to work. In the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Budget over six billion pounds is being cut in direct financial support for children. Most of that money is paid to mothers.

4)Benefits and Tax: The Spending Review changes hit women twice as hard as men. Emergency Budget changes hit women three times as hard as men whilst the Comprehensive Spending Review changes hit women twice as hard due to the changes to benefits, direct tax and tax credits.

5)Retirement and Women’s Pensions: The cuts to pension credit, public sector pensions, carers’ allowance and attendance allowance will hit older women harder. Thousands of pounds will be lost due to the changes in the state retirement age and women will have to work longer.

Conference is also aware that this Con Dem Government has already shown its commitment to women and equality by failing to fully Equality Impact Assess the budget and welcomes the actions taken by the Fawcett Society in seeking a judicial review. It took Yvette Cooper to highlight that the emergency budget was the “worst for women since the creation of the welfare state.” Her gender audit found that of the eight billion pounds net revenue to be raised by financial year 2014-15, nearly six billion pounds will be from women, in contrast with just over two billion pounds from men.

Therefore conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

a)Work within UNISON structures to encourage and support women to attend the TUC march on 26 March.

b)Assist regional women’s networks to ensure women have a strong presence at the march and send a positive message to the Con Dem government.

c)To circulate materials highlighting the impact of the cuts on women on the lead up to the march.

d)Liaise with the UNISON delegates to the TUC’s Women’s Committee to further strengthen women’s presence at the march.

e)Ensure women play an active role within the march and that their voices are heard.