The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) published their full gender impact assessment of the 2017 Spring Budget in March 2017, alongside a briefing on social care.
Dr Eva Neitzert, WBG Co-Director, said:
“Despite delivering the Spring Budget on International Women’s Day, there was little here to improve the lives of ordinary women. The additional monies for social care are welcome, but not enough to reverse decades of under-funding that have left the sector in crisis.”
The assessment found:
- The most significant fiscal announcement, to increase Class 4 National Insurance Contributions for self-employed workers from 9% to 11%, was reversed less than a week after the Budget. Analysis carried out by the WBG shows that, combined with the abolition of Class 2 contributions, this would have raised additional revenue in a progressive way and redistributed from men to women, while the average impact on individual incomes would be limited, even in the richer households. Of the total amount raised by the two measures, women would have contributed just under a quarter.
- The £2 billion over three years announced for social care is welcome, but falls far short of what is needed to address the on-going crisis in social care. The announcement of a Green Paper on social care funding postpones the implementation of sustainable solutions already set out over the last 11 years in two major reports. Women are disproportionately affected by the care crisis. Not only are the majority of those in need of care women, but so too are the majority of those providing paid and unpaid care.
- Women and those on low incomes continue to shoulder by far the greatest burden of tax and benefit changes and cuts to public spending since 2010, with black and Asian women facing a triple disadvantage. Changes due to take effect in April 2017 will continue this trend.
- The Chancellor again chose not to make any significant new investment in health and education services. This is despite creating additional ‘headroom’ by relaxing the government’s self-imposed fiscal rule at the Autumn Statement 2016. It is hard to justify keeping this headroom as a precaution for a future downturn when spending now on public services could instead shore up the economy by creating jobs and stimulating demand.
- The Treasury and Chancellor failed to provide an adequate assessment of how the Budget impacts on different groups. Such analysis must be an essential component of the decision-making process when setting policies that aim to build a country that ‘works for everyone.’