COVID reverses progress on financial equality

As the pandemic continues, it is clear the progress made to reduce gender inequality in the last 50 years is going into reverse

UK cash. coins and bank note

A UNISON survey has revealed that that women are being increasingly disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, with those at retirement age hit the hardest.

Women make up three-quarters of the part-time labour force, so were hit particularly hard when part-time jobs fell by 70% in the first three months of the pandemic.

In response to UNISON’s equality survey, 7.5% of women said that they have lost money from their wages, and 12% are more in debt since the pandemic began.

To make matters worse, these effects will be long-lasting, as low pay and job loss translates into pension poverty for women.

UNISON national officer Josie Irwin said: “Women born in the 1950s already know what discrimination at work feels like. They are already planning how best to manage on a meagre pension – they were dealt a hammer blow when the last Tory government raised the state pension age with next to no notice.

“Many are struggling to make ends meet with precious little support from the government.”

An appeal to the Court of Appeal led by Backto60, supporting women being who felt cheated out of pension entitlements, was dismissed on 15 September 2020. Further legal action is unlikely to succeed.

Ms Irwin said: “It’s now time MPs intervened to give them the financial help many so desperately need.”

She concluded: “We need to speak out about pensions injustice now. When the country starts to count the cost of the pandemic, we can’t allow the burden to fall on women again”.