Annex B: Welfare Reform and Equality Groups
Since coming to power in May 2010, the UK coalition Government has launched a major reform of the welfare state. The Welfare Reform Act received Royal Assent in March 2012 but this is just one part of the reforms which have been introduced through successive budgets, Autumn Statements and the Spending Review. The Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) equality impact assessments show that the majority of the reforms have a negative impact on the equality groups. Examples of changes being introduced through welfare reform and their impact on women, disabled people and ethnic minorities are provided below.
Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit are paid to the main carer of children. Reforms reducing the value of these benefits will result in a lower income for those with caring responsibilities - the vast majority of whom are women. The requirement for lone parents with a child aged 5 - 6 to move from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance will primarily affect women (96% of those affected are women). 4 Other changes, such as the abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant and the cut in the Sure Start Maternity Grant, reduce payments to pregnant women on low incomes. The Institute for Fiscal Studies ( IFS) analysis conducted in 2011 found that whilst the average single adult male household is predicted to lose just under 4% of their net income, the average single adult female household is predicted to lose over 4.5% of its net income, this is largely driven by the particularly large loss for lone parents, 90% of whom are women. 5 The introduction of Universal Credit will mean a move from individual to household-based benefit payments, with a single monthly payment made to one nominated individual in the household. Under the current system different benefits are paid to different individuals in the household with women usually receiving child related benefits. The way that money is distributed in a low-income household remains deeply 'gendered', with women more likely than men to spend the income they receive on children. 6 A household benefit payment may impact on gender equality, leading to a return of a 'male breadwinner model'.
Policies such as the time-limiting of contributory Employment and Support Allowance and the move from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment impact almost exclusively on disabled people. 7 Additionally, other policies such as the under-occupation penalty (also known as the 'bedroom tax') have a significant impact on disabled people. Scottish Government analysis estimates that 79% of households affected by the policy will contain a disabled person. 8
The household benefit cap limits the total weekly amount of benefit received by a household to £350 for a single adult household and £500 for a couple household. A large proportion of the households affected are large families. Households from cultural backgrounds with a high prevalence of large families and households from certain ethnic minorities that tend to have a higher proportion of large families are more likely to be affected. DWP estimates that 40% of households affected will contain somebody who is from an ethnic minority. 9
Email: Graeme Bryce, Graeme.Bryce@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House