To enlist the skills, creativity and experience of women to deliver Bristol’s potential to be a leading European city and to tackle the economic and social exclusion of women on low income in Bristol.
Women have been hit most by the austerity policies since 2010. 81% of tax changes and cuts in social security spending will have come from women by 2020.
The impact on women of changes in income and public spending for example on health, education, transport and social care, is greater than the impact on men. The hardest hit are households headed by women such as lone parents and single female pensioners, both being about 20% worse-off on average in 2020.
An analysis of the cumulative impact of tax and benefit changes for the period 2010-15 by gender and by income showed that women stood to lose more than men in both cash terms (50% more) and as a percentage of income (twice as much).
To date no detailed assessments have been produced of the impact of government policies and welfare changes despite the legal requirement to assess the impact of policies on different groups.
Bristol Women’s Voice surveyed local women’s organisations about their effects of austerity on organisations supporting women in Bristol. Organisations across the board reported unmet needs. One local organisation reported excessive waiting lists, resulting in the need to limit services due to high demand. Another organisation cited that the job cuts in the public sector have particularly impacted disabled people, coupled with a lack of inaccessible housing has resulted in more disabled women living in poverty. Other organisations spoke out about the attack on the benefits system and the rising cost of living which has resulted in women’s wages going down in real terms.
If the same amount was spent on care as on construction double the number of jobs would be provided. In turn, more women in work would mean more money going to the government in tax and National Insurance.
Economic information from Bristol City Council on the local situation in March 2016 shows:
- 4% of women in Bristol are economically active (in employment or registered seeking employment), this compares with 70.2% of men.
- 3% of men are self employed but only 4.8% of women
- 3% of women work under 30 hours a week
- 2% of all women in Bristol have no formal educational qualification and only 0.8% of women have ever undertaken an apprenticeship, whereas 5.1% of men have done so.
The gender pay gap remains a key issue. An analysis by Dr Jackie Longworth examines the national and local situation and identifies that the extent of the pay gap depends on occupation – what work women do, whether they work full time or part time, what other characteristics they have, e.g. race, age, disability, sexual orientation and where they live.
Women work predominantly in sectors that are low paid and undervalued: care, retail and hospitality and service sectors. They are often unable to get flexible work opportunities to fit in with other commitments such as looking after children. The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, the body overseeing investment in business in the area, is focused on ‘high value jobs’ in the aerospace, high tech manufacturing; green technology; professional services and the digital creative sectors, industries which do not employ a high number of women in the better paid jobs.
A recent report found that 77% of women had a negative experience when they were pregnant, on maternity leave, and/or when they came back to work. This could mean up to 390,000 women. 11% had been forced to leave their job either because they were dismissed, made compulsorily redundant when no else was, or were treated so badly they felt they had no option but to leave.
Some 68% of mothers asked to work flexibly when they returned to work and three in four of these requests were agreed, but more than 50% of those women who returned on a flexible basis felt this affected their future opportunities negatively.
Black and Minority Ethnic women were more likely to suffer a financial loss, or negative effects on their future opportunities, status and job security.
Childcare is inadequate and expensive. Bristol has some of the most expensive childcare outside of London. The Women’s Budget Group has shown that 84% of the cost of universal free childcare would be recouped through taxes and reductions in welfare benefits.
Career and study option advice is inadequate with young women still being directed towards traditional women’s employment such as health and social care, or hairdressing and beauty services.
Fewer women than men have access to cars and public transport does not meet the needs of women to get to work, to get children to school and to carry out their other roles. The lack of transport means that women cannot easily access the well paid jobs on the northern fringes of Bristol even if they have the required skills.
Poor recruitment, personal development and promoting practices prevent women from progressing. It is difficult to get compensation for sex discrimination as the introduction of a £1,200 fee for taking discrimination cases to employment tribunal has blocked this route for the vast majority of women.
Economy Calls to Action
|Who?||Call to Action|
|All public bodies and businesses in Bristol commissioning or procuring services||To require bidders to provide jobs which meet the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Decent work standards|
|Bristol City Council, West of England Local Enterprise Partnership||To provide free, high quality, local and flexible childcare across Bristol|
|Bristol City Council, West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, Local Authorities in West of England, transport providers||To improve access to well-paid jobs by providing a public transport system that facilitates the needs of working women and their caring arrangements|
|Schools, academies, colleges and universities, Learning Partnership West||To improve careers guidance to girls and women that is unbiased and avoids stereotyping the roles that men and women perform in the jobs market|
|Bristol City Council, West of England LEP, Learning Partnership West||To ensure skills and training address and meet the needs of women, particularly those who are most disadvantaged in the labour market|
|Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Business West||To comply with the law in relation to pregnancy and maternity rights|
|Bristol City Council, West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, developers and other businesses||To make the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone a beacon of inclusive gender equality in all aspects of its development and future use|
 See 2015 AFS response by WBG (http://bit.ly/1QbC6Ir)