Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Last week’s UK news was somewhat dominated by the coalition government’s Budget. We were ‘treated’ to a few leaks before it was announced but it was only following the full reading that the full impact really reached us.

George Osborne announced, as predicted, a cut to the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p, obviously to help those who need it the most- the wealthiest in society. And Labour leader, Ed Miliband addressed this head on and rightly had the front bench ‘squirming’ as Peter McHugh in his political sketch for the New Statesman said.

McHugh said: ‘He was on even better form as he demonstrated that cutting the top rate from 50p to 45p was five times better news for us – and not the rich who would be clobbered anyway by a crackdown on tax dodging.

You can read his full analysis here.

Jackie Ashley predicted the Budget would be bad news for women, and said it had to be closely scrutinised by the usual prisms such as class and gender. Gender is important because, as she rightly pointed out, policy is rarely gender neutral, and if last week’s Budget is anything to go by then we see how detrimental it was to women. You can read her full article here.

Yesterday’s Observer broke down the Budget bit by bit and asked two commentators their views. It’s really worth reading this article as it puts much of last week’s rhetoric into perspective.

On gender, one of the commentators – Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank focusing on low-to-middle earners and former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Brown said that it was important to close the gender pay gap within the next decade.Closing that gap over the next 10 years represents a rare opportunity to spread prosperity.’

He added: ‘This will only happen if there are more quality part-time jobs and a major expansion in affordable and flexible childcare. It will also mean more equal sharing of caring responsibilities between genders. Closing the gap means change for men as well as women.’

You can read the full article here.



The cuts are reckless and regressive.

Labour Party

Many will be left reeling after the revelations of yesterday’s Spending Review, a long list of savage cuts which threaten 500,000 jobs and the welfare of millions. In announcing this strategy, Chancellor George Osborne claimed to be driven by the demands of fairness; if this is true, it is painfully clear that he has a very distorted concept of what ‘fairness’ entails. Few could describe as fair a budget that impacts disproportionately on the poorest half of the nation, slashing already squeezed social housing provision and reducing care provision whilst allowing the City to emerge unscathed. Even The Telegraph readily admits that this is a political budget, shaped by ideological imperatives as much as economic demands.

Already, the plans have prompted a surge of compelling critiques from think-tanks and charities shocked by their regressive implications. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (hardly a voice of radicalism) has warned that the impact on the poorest tenth will be five times that on the richest, Shelter has expressed fears that homelessness will surge, and the Social Market Foundation has pointed out that protecting the schools budget meant big hits for all-important early years services.

Acknowledging all of this is hugely important, but it is also crucial that we include gender in the picture and recognise the particularly pernicious effects these cuts will have on women. As the Fawcett Society outlines, it is women who will be the main losers as jobs are cut, public services are rolled back and benefits are slashed. Of the 500,000 to be cut from the public sector, two thirds will be women and, as primary carers, it is women who will assume the extra burden of responsibility when provision for children and the elderly is scaled back. We must challenge this: if it goes unrecognised, women’s services and benefits will remain a soft target, vulnerable to a Coalition all-too-often governed by expedience.