Disabled Women Paying the Price of Punitive Government Policy

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2022 Virtual National Women's Conference
15 October 2021

Conference notes that the 2020 National Women’s Conference passed policy on how women were on a “cliff edge” with respect of to the poverty trap that the need to stay within the thresholds of Universal Credit has created. The pandemic has made this situation much worse. Disabled women are faced with a perfect storm of increasing household bills and reduced benefit levels. The £20 per week increase which was introduced as an emergency measure at the start of the pandemic was a lifeline for the very high proportion of disabled women who were working in low paid jobs.

Conference believes that it is fundamentally wrong that low paid women workers in the NHS and Social Care in Scotland felt that they had no option but to forgo the thank you payment that the Scottish Government made available last winter because of the effect that it would have on their benefits.

It is absolutely clear that we are now entering into another period of austerity and rising inflation. Fuel costs are rising and it is likely that other household costs will rise too. There will be another increase in National Insurance and occupational pension costs will rise as well. It is also widely predicted that the low mortgage interest rates will start to rise which will have an impact on housing costs.

For many disabled women who are dependent on private transport or taxis or require higher levels of heating in their homes, the increasing costs of living will have a drastic effect.

Conference instructs the National Women’s committee to work with the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1)Work with regional women’s groups, self organised groups and service groups as appropriate to build a body of evidence showing the effects of austerity on disabled women members’ household incomes, particularly low paid members who are reliant on Universal Credit to supplement their wages.

2)Work with Labour Link to lobby for a benefits system which enables disabled women to work without being financially disadvantaged.