Rise in female unemployment fuelled by cuts to childcare tax credits

Catherine Gaunt
Monday, August 8, 2011

More than one-in-four women have been out of work for more than a year, according to research, which says that cuts to childcare tax credits are partly to blame for female joblessness.

An analysis of employment figures by the Institute of Public Policy Research found that there are now 42,000 more women unemployed than a year ago.

Just over a million women are without a job and 268,000 of them gave been out of work for more than 12 months, a rise of 15,000 since last year.

The IPPR says that the reduction to the amount that parents on low-to middle-incomes can claim for the childcare costs through working tax credit from 80 per cent to 70 per cent, means that for some women the cost of childcare outweighs the financial benefit of working.

Dalia Ben-Galim, IPPR associate director, said, ‘During the recession, unemployment among men increased much more than among women. But our analysis of the latest figures show that this experience is now being reversed, in large part because of the Government’s public spending cuts.’

The research says that the rise in female unemployment can also be partly explained by the number of jobs that have been lost in the public sector, working in administration health and education, in which more women than men are employed.

More than 40 per cent of redundancies in the last three months were among women.

Ms Ben-Galim added, ‘Behind the headline unemployment figures, more people are experiencing long spells out of work and long-term unemployment is rising steeply. Women are increasingly joining the ranks of the long–term unemployed and the prospects for female employment are likely to remain gloomy for some time to come. Cuts to childcare tax credits mean that for some women, work no longer pays and they are better off staying at home.’

The IPPR wants the Government to ensure that everyone who has been out of work for a year is guaranteed a job earning the minimum wage and is calling for universal childcare to parents to encourage full employment.

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