Women and the Impacts of the Energy Crisis

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2023 National Women's Conference
14 October 2022

Conference, on energy strategy, the government is leaving women in the cold. Women will shoulder some of the worst effects of soaring energy bills. Why doesn’t the government’s energy security statement do more for us?

How much do low-income people spend on electricity and gas? According to an analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, low-income individuals who live alone will spend the most on gas and electricity bills (33% of their income after housing costs) Women, will feel the consequences.

Women are more likely to be the member of the household opening the bills and counting the pennies at the checkout. Pervasive gender discrimination means women continue to be paid less than men, including for equivalent work. Single women are more likely to struggle to cover the cost of living on one salary. Single parents face historic levels of inflation and soaring day-to-day costs, they simply do not have the buffer in their budgets to mitigate the consequences for their families. Many are looking at increasing debt, missing meals and being unable to afford rent or mortgage payments

Women who are trapped in abusive relationships cannot afford to leave through the impact of soaring fuel costs and refuges are also feeling the brunt of rising energy costs. Research by Women’s Aid found that almost all survivors (96%) responding had seen a negative impact on the amount of money available to them as a result of cost of living increases.

Two thirds (66%) of survivors told us that abusers are now using the cost of living increase and concerns about financial hardship as a tool for coercive control, including to justify further restricting their access to money. Almost three quarters (73%) of women living with and having financial links with the abuser said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave.

Rising utility costs mean refuge services are seeing a devasting impact on their outgoings as they look to cover increases from reserves rather than pass on to residents. This is not sustainable long-term and noted that refuge residents will not benefit from government measures to help with energy costs where the refuge uses a bulk energy contract, rather than individual meters.

The cost of living crisis is causing hunger, hardship and mental anguish for too many single parent families, primarily women. This government urgently needs to put in place targeted support for those on low incomes or the stark reality is that more single parents and their children will be forced to live in poverty and experience the disadvantage this brings.

Conference calls upon the Women’s National Committee:

to work with National and Regional labour link committees to continue the work alongside Labour MPs to lobby Government to

1)To continue pushing for a windfall tax on fuel companies.

2)remove other tax subsidies i.e. VAT exemption on Energy Bills.

3)Reduced energy costs for all refuges during the cost of living crisis, for example by extending the remit of Warm Home Discount Scheme to include refuges to help women fleeing domestic abuse