Time for a ‘Plan F’

by Zero Tolerance Co-director, Jenny Kemp

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Zero Tolerance works to end men’s violence against women by tackling its root causes: sexism, gender inequality and structural disadvantage. One of the clearest manifestations of inequality between women and men is the way in which our economy operates primarily in the interests of men and hugely disadvantages women:

  • We have a persistent gender pay gap – on average women working full-time in Scotland earn £95.60 per week less than men.
  • Since 2010, 85% of cuts to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions have been taken from women’s incomes. Together with the Autumn Statement 2014 this amounts to £22 billion from a total £26 billion.
  • Women in paid work are clustered in low-paid, undervalued jobs. Women take on most of the unpaid caring work our society needs: women make up 74% of those in receipt of Carers’ Allowance. This work is often invisible, so we welcome the #makeworkvisible campaign by Engender.

These issues are too seldom addressed by the wealthy, privileged men in suits who run our financial markets, businesses, institutions and governments. The Scottish Women’s Budget Group and the Women’s Budget Group have recently issued a statement calling for a ‘Plan F: A Feminist Economic Strategy for a Caring and Sustainable Economy’, and Zero Tolerance wholeheartedly endorses this Plan.

Like SWBG and WBG, we’re concerned about the ways in which economic decisions are being made without understanding the possible impacts on women. For example:

  • Universal Credit reform: The arrangements for payment should be changed so that not all the money goes to one person in a household – something that may hinder women from leaving an abusive partner, or further entrench coercive control in households where men control women’s access to resources.
  • Investment in infrastructure: Investment decisions should prioritise new social infrastructure such as care, health, education and training services. In Edinburgh, where Zero Tolerance is based, £776 million was spent on trams infrastructure, to develop a network that calls at business parks, a rugby ground, a bank headquarters and an airport – not schools, hospitals or community centres. Imagine if nearly one billion bounds had been spent on childcare services or support for carers? That could have been truly transformative.
  • Tax reductions: reversing reductions introduced since June 2010 would save billions. The rise in the threshold for personal income tax costs around £12 bn a year from 2016/17 onwards, and this benefits only those who pay tax, 57% of whom are men. It does not benefit those with incomes below the tax threshold, 63% of whom are women.

Christina McKelvie MSP has tabled a motion (Motion S4M-12593) in the Scottish Parliament asking for support for ‘Plan F’. Why not ask your MSP to sign it today? It’s time for a new economic plan that puts gender equality front and centre. It’s time for Plan F.

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