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2011 National Women's Conference
21 October 2010

All political parties in the run up to the General Election had campaigns around fairness and equalities and the importance of family. As soon as the ConDem Government came into power they could not wait to introduce measures that had a disproportionate impact on women. Particularly in their sights on universal benefits such as child benefit which has been frozen, and removal from many sixteen year olds, and working families tax credits. From April 2011 tax credits will be withdrawn from all families with gross incomes of more than forty one thousand, three hundred and thirty pounds approximately. Restrictions on school meals have also been increased. Sure Start, one of the key achievements of the Labour Government, is under threat and the Sure Start grant maybe restricted to the first child only. Housing Benefit, a crucial benefit for many families, is also at risk with the potential for one hundred and thirty four thousand families facing homelessness as a result. The Government has also abolished the pregnancy grant which again directly affects women and children.

Despite the fact that Teresa May warned that these measures had not been equality impact and would have a disproportionate impact on women, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister chose to ignore this advice. It was not until this was challenged by Yvette Cooper that any consideration was given to the equality aspects of the cuts.

With the threats to women’s jobs in the public sector, many of our women members are faced with a double whammy of fear of unemployment and cuts to benefits.

This National Women’s Conference instructs the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Continue to work closely with the Fawcett Society in challenging the Government’s discriminatory policies;

2)Monitor the impact particularly on our low paid women workers;

3)Work with UNISON’s Welfare to ensure that women members receive appropriate advice and support; and

4)Produce materials that can be used with members to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact on women of Government policies.