'With one week to go before the Government Comprehensive Spending Review, new figures show that spending cuts will have a disproportionate impact on the North East's women.
According to new figures published today by the Northern TUC, almost half of all working women in the North East are employed in the public sector raising fears that job losses will plunge many households into poverty.
On average 46% of all women who work in the North East are employed within the public sector. This represents the highest proportion in England and compares to 31% of women working in London employed by the public sector. In some areas of the North East a staggering 2 in 3 of all women in work are employed in public sector jobs.
The Government has indicated it will be looking to cut public spending by £83 Billion at the Comprehensive Spending Review leading to at least 600,000 public sector job losses.
The TUC figures raise further alarm that women will continue to be hardest hit by the Government's spending cuts. Many benefits and services facing cuts are disproportionately used by women and the Government is already facing a legal challenge from the Fawcett Society as a result of overlooking the negative impact on women of George Osborne's Budget.
Today Kevin Rowan Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC called on the Government to halt plans for savage spending cuts and adopt alternative approaches to deficit reduction:
Kevin Rowan, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC said:
'The Government is pursuing plans of savage cuts that will undermine services, destroy jobs and harm communities across the North East. Our research today shows that North East working women are going to be disproportionately in the firing line. They didn't cause the financial crises and should not be paying with their livelihoods. We need to see a Government strategy of job creation, growth and increasing taxes from the wealthiest in society and not measures that hit the innocent.'
Bridget Phillipson, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South said:
'Today's Northern TUC figures reveal that significant spending cuts will directly affect the livelihoods of North East women and could have a devastating impact on many households. Government cuts will see the abolition of the Health in Pregnancy Grant and the Sure Start Maternity Grant and there are also proposals to reduce Child Benefit.
These cuts combined with a lack of commitment to the Working Families Tax Credit mean that women will be hit hardest and they have real cause to be worried. It is entirely wrong that they should be hit disproportionately by this coalition government.'
Clare Williams, Chair of the Northern Public Services Alliance, urged women to play a prominent role in the campaign to defend services and promote for alternatives to spending cuts:
'Women are already bearing the burden of low pay, low pensions in retirement, and struggling to balance caring responsibilities with financial security. The threat of the impending cuts to public services will not only impact disproportionately on women in the workplace, but also in their communities as we see the loss of essential public services such as Sure Start, nursery places, free school milk, and older people's home closures.
This is why the Northern Public Services Alliance, bringing together trade unions, community voluntary sector organisations and community groups, is determined to make sure it defends hard won equalities. Women are at the heart of our trade unions and communities and will be at the core of the Public Service Alliance campaigning against these unfair Government policies.
We need to ensure the Government understands that women will not tolerate being made to bear the burden of an economic crisis caused in the main by a corporate and banking elite made up of men. Women understand the need for decent jobs, decent wages and essential services in a region which is still recovering from the decimation of its manufacturing base resulting in one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK, and some of the lowest wages.'
It is essential women lead the campaign against this Government's disastrous economic plans which will not only create misery for thousands of people proving vital public services, but also put at risk the ability of the region to create new private sector jobs. Public services are also essential for our communities and women will lead the defence of public services both in our workplaces and communities.'
Also see: North East anti-cuts rally set for 20 October