Impact of benefit cuts on disabled women

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2024 National Women's Conference
12 October 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference is well aware that disabled workers are paid £3,700 less than non-disabled workers. But conference notes that disabled women are paid even less than disabled men. According to TUC analysis, disabled women face an even bigger pay gap of over £7,000 a year. The gap also increases as women age.

Conference recognises that there are several reasons for this, and it starts in education. Disabled women are consistently denied equal opportunities in education. Ingrained discrimination and misogyny mean they are pushed out of education earlier than disabled men, which leads to disabled women often lacking vital skills needed in the workforce.

But even where disabled men and women achieve the same qualification, disabled women are still paid less. Disabled women are offered fewer opportunities to progress and end up in lower paid jobs, including part-time work.

The TUC makes clear the pay gap for disabled women is also linked to “unlawful discrimination, structural barriers, a lack of access to flexible working, employers failing to provide reasonable adjustments and negative attitudes”.

The Women’s Budget Group found that this intersects with higher rates of poverty among women and, according to their figures, 40% of Black women are more likely to be living in poverty, further increasing the likelihood of financial disadvantage for Black disabled women.

Conference notes that the government’s new proposals outlined in ‘Transforming Support: The health and disability white paper’ mean many more disabled people, especially women, will be forced into low paid work, whether they are ready or not. This will only plunge disabled women further into poverty. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will become the only way to qualify for the higher rate of benefits. This will increase disabled women’s reliance on Universal Credit.

Conference believes government needs to reconsider their approach and ensure that this new system doesn’t leave disabled women in an even worse financial position.

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

1)Highlight the negative and disproportionate repercussions of the government’s plans to further reduce access to disability benefits on disabled women

2)Press for this issue to be included in UNISON’s cost of living campaign materials, amplifying the voices of disabled women

3)Raise this issue with the Labour Link with a view to influencing a future Labour government to put the needs of disabled women at the heart of disability benefits and to smash the disability and gender pay gaps.