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Women and Equalities Questions

14th April 2016

Harriett Baldwin answers questions to the Minister for Women and Equalities on the effects of the 2016 Budget.

Effects of 2016 Budget

Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): 3. What assessment she has made of the effect of measures in the 2016 Budget on different genders. [904444]

Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab): 10. What assessment she has made of the effect of measures in the 2016 Budget on different genders. [904451]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin): The 2016 Budget helped 790,000 women and 540,000 men by cutting their income tax to zero. It helped 7.4 million women and 5.6 million men with an increase in their state pension, thanks to the triple lock. It helped millions of men and women drivers by freezing their fuel duty. Finally, the national living wage gave an immediate pay rise to 900,000 women and 500,000 men this month.

Jim McMahon: I thank the Minister for that answer, but she might be aware that the Labour party has commissioned research showing that, since 2010, 86% of the total amount of cash saved from benefit changes and tax savings has come from women, disproportionately. Since the autumn statement, that figure has increased by 5%. How much more do women have to take the brunt of this Government before action is taken?

Harriett Baldwin: We completely do not accept that analysis, which, by the way, has not been published. It appears to take into account the fact that the child benefit for higher rate women, such as myself, has been removed. Is the hon. Gentleman making the case that that child benefit should be returned to higher rate taxpayers? Also, that analysis has not even been published, but similar analysis assumes that extra Government borrowing can make everybody better off—that does sound like the Labour party.

Dawn Butler: The Government’s own figures show that since 2010 there has been a dramatic drop—more than 10,000—in the number of women taking equal pay cases to the tribunal, yet over the same period there has been a significant increase in the number of men doing so. Can the Minister explain those figures?

Harriett Baldwin: I would have thought that the hon. Lady would welcome the fact that the gender pay gap is narrowing so much. In fact, the steps that we have taken in the 2016 Budget, which will increase the pay of 900,000 women, mean that the gender pay gap for the lowest paid will have been eliminated by 2020.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): Does the Minister agree that the Chancellor’s measures on small business rates will be hugely beneficial to business women across the country?

Harriett Baldwin: I agree with my hon. Friend. I also point out that we are making substantial progress on the number of businesses in this country owned and managed by women, which I believe will also lead to greater gender equality.

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab): The Opposition welcome the Budget announcement about the removal of VAT on tampons, following the campaign led by my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff). However, given that the Chancellor has previously reassured me that the £15 million raised from this tax would be providing funds to domestic violence charities and women’s refuges, can the Minister clarify something for me? Did the Budget include a £15 million cut to women’s charities, and where is this Government’s long-term economic plan for women’s safety?

Harriett Baldwin: I can confirm that the £15 million announced in the Budget will be allocated to the charities that the Chancellor announced. We have also announced a further £80 million of support for those kinds of initiatives to tackle violence against women in our society.

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