Women represent 80 per cent of the 710,000 public sector workers due to be made redundant over the next five years. As the Con-Dem cuts begin to bite, figures from the Office for National Statistics show the total unemployment rate rising to 8.4 per cent, the highest level in 16 years, with 2.67 million people out of work. The ONS also tell us that the female jobless rate rose by 33,000 in the three months to the end of December while the number of men out of work went up by 16,000 over the same period.
Such a disproportionate rise in women’s unemployment is a scandal in itself. It’s made even worse by the fact that the public sector is the only broad sector of the economy in which women are over-represented. The one place where women did well is being cut back. That is a separate scandal for which the Government should be held to account.
This evidence only goes to show that David Cameron and his Cabinet of millionaires simply do not care about women. While they may, according to a No 10 document leaked last year and referred to in the Independent this morning, intellectually understand that Cameron’s Government is “seen as having hit women, or their interests, disproportionately”, they clearly do not intend to do anything to rectify this state of affairs.
It’s the same old, same old. Remember, this is the Government that brought you repatriation of EU powers back to the UK and couldn’t deliver, tried to “veto” an EU treaty then gave in, and now is unable (and probably unwilling) to take any measures to improve the position of women.
Moreover, Cameron, Osborne and co are consistently dishonest about why these attacks on women are taking place. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber put it very well in today’s Mirror: “The international economy has had an impact on the UK, but many of our problems are home grown and that’s why our jobs figures have been worse.” So Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne, do not continue your cheap attempts to scapegoat the Euro, and please no more blaming the last Labour Government. The dogmatic austerity measures are your very own Conservative policies, and are proving deeply damaging.
As Anna Bird of the Fawcett Society has said in several newspapers this morning, “These new [unemployment] figures must act as a wake-up call to Government. We’re in a time of crisis. Cuts are threatening women’s equality as jobs dry up, benefits are slashed and vital public services disappear.”