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STEVE REED: Why austerity is hitting women hardest

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IN HIS latest column, Croydon North MP Steve Reed explains why he thinks women are being hit hardest in the current economic climate... WOMEN continue to suffer more than men from the Government's austerity policies and inequality in society. A new TUC report shows that women earn, on average, £5,000 a year less than men, and that women have borne the brunt of Government funding cuts over recent years. The Government has targeted cuts on local services where seven out of ten employees are women, leading to higher levels of female redundancies. Cuts to services like older people's care, childcare and playgroups force a greater burden of responsibility onto women, who are left to plug the gaps. Women's pay has been hit hard, since women are more likely to be working in low-paid employment such as cleaning, catering, caring or administration, where pay is falling in real terms. Skyrocketing energy bills, the Government's VAT increase and soaring rents all put pressure on household bills, which are often managed by women. It's a tragic fact that times of economic stress bring an increase in domestic violence against women and children, and sadly that's what we've seen in Croydon and across the rest of the country. If the image of the last great recession in the 1980s was an unemployed coal miner or steel worker, then the image of the recent recession is a woman struggling to cope with low pay, rising bills and growing demands to care for young children and older relatives. The Government simply can't keep putting women under pressure in this way, but perhaps it's not surprising that's what they've done, when you thank that three-quarters of the most senior ministers under this Government are men.

STEVE REED: Why austerity is hitting women hardest


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