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2011 National Women's Conference
12 January 2011

This Conference recognises that some aspects of government’s proposals published in ‘Universal Credit’ (November 2010) to reform the state welfare system are reportedly designed to make it easier for a single assessment of need. Such a system should relieve some of the burdensome pressure of women to make duplicate applications to a number of statutory bodies for financial support.

In particular we welcome a single gateway approach through University Credit that will determine women’s needs for financial support that should offer greater geographic mobility. A single gateway approach should also remove some of the pressure on women who are relocating jobs to improve their economic independence and support those women are who fleeing domestic violence and need geographic locations.

However we are concerned that not enough scrutiny has been given to the proposal to transfer all funding arrangements to one source – the Department of Work and Pensions – particularly with regard to women whose income can fluctuate on a regular basis. Women workers such as bank nurses who have erratic and fragmented contract hours and those whose income is tied to a bonus or productivity payments, especially women who work in call centres are unconfident that the new centrally managed electronic system will keep pace with changes in their income patterns. Women members are concerned that many face even greater levels of poverty and lose some of their financial independence.

This conference calls upon the National Women’s Committee to liaise with all Regional Women’s Groups to gather additional information about the disadvantages for women in the government’s proposals. Such information should be used to inform the work of all appropriate UNISON structures to assist the development of union wide policy for UNISON for use against any aspect of government’s proposals that could mean a detriment to women members financial independence.