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A Widening Gap - new report shows women bear the brunt of welfare reform

Since 2010, £26 billion worth of cuts have been made to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions. 85% of this has fallen on women’s incomes.

To coincide with the Welfare Reform Committee’s Inquiry on Women and Welfare Reform, Engender, together with Close the Gap, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Scottish Refugee Council and Scottish Women’s Aid, have today launched a report examining the impact of welfare reform on women in Scotland.

The report, containing case studies and analysis, highlights the grotesquely disproportionate impact that welfare reform is having on women. Focusing on issues such as the move to Universal Credit, economic inequality, unpaid care work, and support for women facing domestic abuse, the report calls on the Scottish Government to implement a gendered response to welfare reform mitigation.

The further devolution of some powers over welfare to the Scottish Parliament offers an opportunity to reduce the damaging impact of welfare reforms on women in Scotland, but also presents very real concerns over the complex division of different areas of social security between the UK and Scottish Governments. The report calls for a gender and human rights analysis throughout the process of further devolution, and for a halt on the roll out of Universal Credit in Scotland until negotiations are complete.

Speaking last night at an event on women and welfare reform at the Scottish Parliament hosted by MSPs Clare Adamson and Michael McMahon, Lebo Mohlakoana a member of the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group said:

“Decision makers need to stop talking and start acting to halt the negative impact of welfare reform on women. The policies on paper are not helping. Improvements on the ground for women only happen when we start taking action. One of the most important things we can do for refugee women is to address stigma, discrimination and stereotyping in employment through more tailored employment support programmes and engagement with employers. The whole welfare system needs to better reflect and respond to different women’s needs, not treating us like one size fits all.”

Executive Director of Engender, Emma Ritch, said:

“We have long been aware of the devastating impact that welfare reform is having, and this report highlights the true cost to women in Scotland. The Scottish Government has done positive work to mitigate the worst effects but a gendered approach is needed to ensure women, particularly those facing multiple oppressions, do not continue to bear the brunt of welfare reform.”

The full report can be seen at:


- The Refugee Women’s Strategy Group is a group of refugee and asylum seeking women who work together to influence policy and improve practice for refugee women in Scotland. More info at.

- Universal Credit is a single payment to replace Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and working tax credit. Roll-out began in April 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2017. Significant delays have been experienced.

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