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Spreading the Budget pain (1)

Stephanie Flanders | 13:08 UK time, Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Should the government worry that its Budget cuts fall disproportionately on women?

George OsborneThe Fawcett Society thinks so. This weekend it filed papers calling for a judicial review of Chancellor Osborne's Budget, on the grounds that the Treasury did not formally examine the impact of the Budget by gender before the chancellor stood up in the Commons.

Yvette Cooper, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, asked the House of Commons library to do a rough and ready gender audit covering £8bn of new benefit cuts or tax increases announced by the chancellor for 2014-15.

It suggests that 72% of the tax increases or benefit cuts included in the study will take money away from women, versus 28% for men.

The disparity comes largely, but not entirely, from the fact that child benefit is usually paid to mothers, and they are more likely than men to be the direct recipient of housing benefit or tax credits, or to live on a public sector pension.

You can quibble with the precise numbers: the £8bn represents less than half of the nearly £20bn in tax and benefit changes announced by Mr Osborne. And then there's the spending cuts to come on top of that figure.

However, the basic facts are that men pay more tax than women, and they are much less likely to work in the public sector.

Given that the lion's share of deficit cuts are going to be achieved through spending cuts - including a public sector pay freeze and massive job cuts - it seems highly plausible that a more comprehensive audit would show that women were going to hit much harder than men.

Is this unfair? I suspect readers will have a variety of opinions on that question. But it does seem a little odd to look at the gender impact of deficit cuts in isolation - without also looking at the gender impact of the crisis itself.

Early on, some worried that women would bear the brunt of that too. But the reality was that women came through it better than men. For example: since the recession began in the spring of 2007, the broader measure of unemployment has risen by just over 800,000.

Almost exactly two thirds of that increase has been through men joining the dole queue, and one third women. When you look at redundancies, the disparity is even greater.

Unfortunately, we don't have timely data on male and female earnings - just a bunch of averages. But between April 2008 and April 2009 - the latest available - gross hourly median pay (excluding overtime) for male full-time workers rose by 3.8%, whereas the figure for female full-timers was 4.3%.

Women's pay is likely to have held up better after that as well, for the same reason that they are now likely to be hit relatively hard by cuts: namely, that a lot more of them work in the public sector.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are nearly twice as many women working in the public sector as men - 65% versus 35%. In the private sector, the positions are reversed: about 60% of the private sector workforce is male, and around 40% female. (These figures date from before the recession but they won't have changed dramatically.)

As I've mentioned many times in the past, because the government maintained public spending through the recession, pay and employment in the private sector has been hit much harder than the public sector, though the latest figures do show the balance is shifting, with employment starting to fall in the public sector, and private sector earnings now edging up (though not as fast as inflation).

Before you ask, I'm not saying that women "deserve what's coming to them" now in the form of deficit cuts. But if you are looking at the gender impact of policies, it does seem important to look at who benefited from spending on the way up - as well as who loses on the way down.

If you do that, I suspect you would get a more nuanced picture of the "fairness" of Mr Osborne's deficit cuts. There will still be gender disparities - after a long period of rising public expenditure to fund public services, it's inevitable that spending cuts will have a greater impact on the part of the population that rely on those services most heavily, which tends to be women with children.

But surely the gender disparities you'd worry most about would be the ones caused by women's relatively higher chance of living in poverty. Most people are less worried about middle class mothers losing child benefit than they are about poor families having nowhere to live.

Put it another way: you might start off worrying about the gender impact of the Budget, but you pretty soon come back to the bigger debate about the distribution of cuts by income. That debate will run and run, especially in this summer of haggling with the Treasury over how and where to cut.

But here's a heretical thought: if you're worried about a large part of the population getting left out of this debate, don't only worry about the poor. And don't only worry about women. Worry, too about young people.

Why? Because, whatever else the chancellor may have done, he has not yet proved he can break the spell that the baby boomer generation has held over UK economic policy and public spending for so long. I'll be talking about a "generational audit" of his Budget in my next post.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    'Should the government worry that its Budget cuts fall disproportionately on women?

    The Fawcett Society thinks so'

    From which we can conclude that the Fawcett Society is yet another bunch of dopey left wing idiots best ignored.

  • Comment number 3.

    There is far more to worry about inrespct of the budget than any gender considrations!

  • Comment number 4.

    Have to agree with "jobsagoodin"

    My original post seems not to be likely to be getting through the BBC Web Police department, probably for some form of "Thought Crime" because it doesn't meet their policies on "Feminist Positive Descrimination" or some such.

    Essentially, I was trying, through a rather sarcastic response, to draw attention to the fact that frankly there are muich more important things to be writing about. How about looking into who funds the "Fawcett Society" and reviewing some of their other publications?

    I love most of the BBC but the journalists are really heading the right way for siome Rupert Murdoch treatment I'm afraid and the more they come up with this sort of tripe the more likely they are to be getting the axe I'm sorry to say!

    Taking press releases from self serving leftie front organaisations is beneath the BBC and I really object to the waaste of money this represents.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    So what you're saying Steph, is that if you are young, female and poor, you're perhaps wise to give serious consideration towards emigrating while there's still some friendly commonwealth countries to move to.
    Canada, India, or Australia girls and good luck.

  • Comment number 7.

    Whatever happens there will be victims. I doubt very much if there is a will to single out any particular group

  • Comment number 8.

    Why should they be worried - equality rules the day

  • Comment number 9.

    Why can't we all just pay the same fixed amount each, ramping up for school levers and down for those close to retirement, that would be fair to all.

    not from a rich person.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did the Fawcett Society worry that when the various benefits were introduced, women were disproportionately advantaged? The cuts are simply a reversal of the position.
    It is a quite ridiculous claim, and quite why the Government should be spending even more money carrying out audits as to which sex is being advantaged / disadvantaged more than another by any particular cut I do not know.

  • Comment number 11.

    Lets suppose that they get a judicial review on basis that there should be a "gender" review of budgets where will it end "sexuality" reviews, "race bias" reviews, "religious" reviews, "ageist" reviews

    And when we have finished that maybe all state benefits should be subject similar reviews eg:

    the state pension is clearly biased against the young,
    disability benefit is biased against the able bodied

    Which is merely a long winded way of saying the whole concept is a load of nonsense.

  • Comment number 12.

    If the cuts will be in the public sector and women have more of those jobs than it stands to reason that they will take a bigger hit. Not sure what is meant by women being recipients of certain payments. Is that because they are single with children or simply that this is the way the payment system is structured. One of the issues that remains undiscussed is who, or if you would like to break it down into groupings, lost retirement and personal investment accounts? There was the front end damage by the banks and now there is the resultant adjustments necessary to maintain society after this greatest of swindles. This is like the impact on the various nations, some are doing better than others but all are suffering in some way. So if we are comparing levels of suffering that is interesting but will not settle much. We do know that the bankers aren't suffering and will pay out bonuses while the women are struggling with less...could calculate women bankers getting bonuses and that might help make the numbers look better by gender.

  • Comment number 13.

    What a bizarre argument.

    Pity no-one thought to argue that state benefits were inherently sexist when Ms Cooper's government was chucking tax payers' money about like confetti

    I'm off to the politics site to demand the immediate abolition of speed cameras which are blatantly anti-male

  • Comment number 14.

    Women have already lost up to £25,000 of income!

    (Resulting from the move from 60 to 65 courtesy the Labour March Budget's acceleration of the age of retirement!)

    Tax rate changes are tiny when compared to this hit!

  • Comment number 15.

    OF COURSE THEY DO - did you think a coalition built mainly with white middle aged men was going to do anything but disproportionately disadvantage women, minorities and those who are not middle aged?

    My god - what did you think we had in Government - representation????

  • Comment number 16.

    It's getting impossible for any policy/law/thought to go without being challenged. Perhaps if our courts were freed up to deal properly with criminals instead of time wasting lawsuits, the UK might be a better place to live

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree that to think of the gender bias of the cuts in isolation is at best misleading. More generally the cuts will inevitably hit the more vulnerable in society disproportionately, as they depend on the government more and the government is not going to cut the deficit without cutting the benefits that support them.

    But there's another cohort that will suffer from the recession more than most - young men, especially uneducated young men, who will find it more difficult than ever to enter the job market. Service jobs at such levels are usually taken by women, who can also benefit more easily from single parent benefits, while there's still an expectation that men look after themselves, or even are the breadwinner in a household. I don't know if we're storing up either social or economic problems by leaving behind a large number of young people, especially men, who will be permanently disadvantaged in terms of experience and opportunities.

  • Comment number 18.

    Typical. You take away a little bit of money, and they turn it on like a tap. (D'ye geddit?)

  • Comment number 19.

    Excuse me, I'm looking for the BBC coverage of this story - but can't seem to find it anywhere on your website.

    Can someone point me in the right direction?

    Wouldn't want to hide such abysmal human rights abuses now would we?

  • Comment number 20.

    Should the government worry that its Budget cuts fall disproportionately on women?

    Women or 'single parent families'?

    Would it have been any different under Labour? They had 13 years within which to remove the inequalities that appear to exist?

    Do our 'global competitors' factor in budget cuts being disproportionately on women ... or do they just progress their trade war against ... 'the west'?

  • Comment number 21.

    Could someone kindly indicate ANY fiscal measure EVER that didn't discriminate in some way - rich and poor, urban and country dwellers, smokers, drinkers, vegetarians, large/small families, motorists. Almost by definition, one group in society will be harder hit than another

  • Comment number 22.

    Neither of the coalition parties told us their hidden agenda which is to slash public spending by 25-40%. Had those parties told that truth, would women have voted for them?
    Moreover, women and low income families are also more likely to be adversely affected by the VAT increase, and are less likely to gain from the reductions planned for Corporation Taxes. Women weren't told about those policies either.
    Coalition excuses that 'debts were worse than we knew' won't wash. It turns out that government debts are lower than forecast in the March Budget. And our country is not remotely like Greece either.
    Women are the largest voting block amongst both conservative and liberal-democrat candidates. If only the votes of men were counted, labour would now be the largest party.
    There's no doubt too that both Clegg & Cameron are more highly rated by women. Perhaps that's because more women than men believed their promises?

  • Comment number 23.

    I see it is August silly season again, have some people nothing better to do?

    I assume that this Fawcett society have vountarily agreed to pay for all the legal costs of both sides rather than forcing the Taxpayers to stump up huge fees for spurious legal challenges?

  • Comment number 24.

    An interesting theme but fiscal measures often work to the disadvantage of others. For example, fuel duty hits those who live in rural communities more than those in urban areas. If therefore we are going to dissect budgetary impacts let's review the whole rather than focus on gender, important though it is.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a male with a large salary which gets paid directly into his happy wife's bank account, I smile broadly at the woeful and conceited misconceptions of "The Fawcett Society".

    Men who covert property are strange. Men should be out doing impressive things, to attract esteem from their peers and the admiration of at least one decent woman. That is how they are made happy. Women should be doing what they can to ensure they and their offspring feel safe and secure. That is how they are made happy.

    And of course, the Fawcett Society can do whatever it pleases, and its members will never be made happy.

    I have never understood men and women who can't get along with each other, and yet who somehow seem to think this makes them experts on how others should live.

    Men should tell the truth, work hard, and give their money to the best available female. Everything else works itself out from there, for both sexes.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    There is a mandatory ie. legal requirement to carry out an equalities impact assessment for all significant policy/budget decisions proposed within the public sector so if the govt can't show they did one, they're stuffed in the eyes of the law. That is the key here. Change the law if you don't like it but until then, even governments aren't above the law.....supposedly.

  • Comment number 28.

    The Fawcett Society ? There is n't a man in sight on the staff, trustees or board. How "equal" is that. How's that for an unbiased opinion?

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't fully understand the maths from the budget change to CPI inflation measure but I think that widows and widowers will loose double the difference and I am particularly upset at the unfairness of this measure to the (mainly) women who gave up a career to be the 'doctor's wife', because it was routine for doctors to work excessive hours in past decades.

  • Comment number 30.

    which lobby group is ensuring left handed people aren't unfairly discriminated against...who pays for this stuff to be carried out...who knowingly pays for this rubbish

  • Comment number 31.

    ... and what about the poor, and pensioners, and the young seeking an education, and the self-employed, not to mention people with red hair who wear spectacles.

    The world seems to be in danger of falling apart, can we get back to the issue of repairing it?

  • Comment number 32.

    Cue Tory Mysogynists naysayers stage right. What does it matter if the cuts affect women more, they should be at home anyway not working.
    Who else is going to iron the Telegraph in the morning?
    They could always pretend to be men like Thatcher and May I suppose?

  • Comment number 33.

    jobsagoodin if the previous government had listened to the 'left wing idiots' in the first place instead of claiming that their ideas were out of date then we would not be in the mess that we're in now.

    The deficit has been caused by two things.

    1. The government being under constant pressure from lobbyists to cut taxes whilst at the same time needing to run the country effectively and therefore having to borrow to do so.

    2. The interest on the debt owed to banks by the government which was borrowed to bail other banks out.

    The first one of these is the result of right wing groups representing the rich trying to cut taxes.

    The second is the result of greed by the rich and the failure of free market capitalism.

    Both of these stem from the right, not the left. The left has been warning about this for years.

    Whilst we're talking about judicial reviews, surely before we make any cuts we should have a judicial review into whether bank staff claimed bonuses fraudulently over the last ten years and should these be claimed back by the government to pay off some of the debt?

  • Comment number 34.


    You left the most salient point to last - the incredible fiscal and policy bias in favour of the baby boom generation. I'm sure you will come up with the figures in your upcoming article, but here's a few thoughts for starters.

    The NHS's budget is left untouched. Who has greatest need for the NHS?

    And what about these non-means tested benefits? Free Bus Passes for over 60s? Free TV licences for over 75s? Winter fuel allowance?

    What's the cut in those benefits?

    Who has done best out of the property boom of the last 20-30 years? Who benefited from double mortgage interest tax relief up to 1988? Who is benefiting from final salary pensions being paid out now? Who had access to free university education?

    Now consider this

    Who needs (frozen for 3 years) child benefit most? Who is losing child trust fund payments? Who is losing Child Care Voucher tax credits? Who will be paying ever higher university loans? Who will be suffering 10% in cuts to the Dept of Education?

    Who cannot get a decent pension? Who cannot get a foot on the property ladder, unless they work in the City or a professional footballer? Who will be paying higher taxes for future years to pay for today's pensions, today's NHS treatments etc?

    It's simple, the over 50s and over 60s have done very well for themselves. And now they have pulled up the ladder.

    "We're all in this together"?

    Not if you're lucky enough to have been born before 1960

  • Comment number 35.

    Here we are with a "coalition" of public school males with token female presence - doing what public school boys mainly do - ignoring women other than as necessary accessories for generating more public school boys, or in some cases access to either wealth, influence or social status. Read any 19th century novel to get the general gist of devious Dave and boy George's attitude towards over 50% of the electorate. Luck for them both that pretty boy Nick was there to be agreed with - little did anybody know what was already in place.

    I know it is only 80 or so years since women got the vote - but surely any PPE scholar worth its salt must understand what egg this "coalition" is laying. Or, are they relying on their plans for electorial reform to solve the problem. Read the fine print, you will probably find a clause requiring women to obtain the permission of at least 3, non-related, males to register a vote, in boundaries so rigged that "rotten boroughs" will be a thing of the future, not the past. Again, I recommend a viewing of, the late and great, Peter Cook movie The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, and all will become clear in the evil twins' plans.

    Well done, to all the male bigots who have posted to date. Keep it up lads - I expect you are still waiting in the pub for England to win the World Cup, or something.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well like it or not, the Coalition Govermnment's emergency Budget is going to face a challenge in the courts, which the Fawcett Soceity could very well win.
    The feminist Fawcett Society has obtained a judicial review of the Budget, saying the Treasury failed to look at the impact on women.
    Chief executive Ceri Goddard said that successive governments have failed to give due consideration to how their policies will impact men and women respectively. Ceri said that this most-recent budget in particular shows a whole new level of disregard for the importance of equality.
    Can you imagine the Coalition's position should the Fawcett Society prevail?

  • Comment number 37.

    Brilliant initiative from the Fawcett society and I hope the JR succeeds in getting the Budget modified. George Osborne wouldn't know gender equality if it went up to him and slapped him in the face. The assault on women, the poor and disabled people in the June Budget marks the coalition out as the most extreme goverment in decades - perhaps even worse than Thatcher.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well I'm just gobsmacked…and this entire article illustrates the reason why this country is up to its knees in trouble when a pressure group (any pressure group!) can, and probably will, stop the government from carrying out what it was elected to do. (I know you have to squint a lot to accept that interpretation but it's theoretically accurate as there was commitment in all major manifestos to cut the public service costs).

    Much as I appreciate the importance of social equality and the need to make sure that one group of people is not unfairly shafted by another group of people there comes a point where we have to draw the line otherwise absolutely nothing will ever get done.

    Maybe the answer is to repeal the legislation that granted as the benefits that the Fawcett Society thinks should continue - they were obviously discriminatory so shouldn’t have been given in the first place. Obviously because they shouldn’t have been paid out then anyone affected will have to repay the full amount.

    …but then they can't repeal the law because that would be discriminatory as well so to even table such a change would be illegal.

    Who thinks these laws up? And why didn't they think through the consequences?

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions really appears to be the case here...

  • Comment number 40.

    Never mind who's right or wrong,is it not time to call a halt to all these minority groups that try to cause trouble any time something crops up that does not suit their agenda.I really hope this government sorts out our juristic services because at the moment they are just being abused and who foots the bill for this stupidity?why the poor old tax payer of course,time to stop it NOW.

  • Comment number 41.


    Perhaps if an assesment were carried out, they may, for example find the cuts fell as follows:
    71% Women 29% Men
    84% Christians 12% Muslims 4% Hindus
    54% Tall people 46% Short People

    Now do you :

    a) Try to balance the budget so it affects all ehthic/gender/religious groups in the relative proportions (yes try doing that) or..

    b) Do the things you actually need to do in the budget and make the cuts where they are needed to be made...for the overall benefit of the country as a whole

    Hmmm let me think about that....

  • Comment number 42.

    This is just further proof of what everybody in Whitehall already knows. That the Treasury don't listen and don't know what they are doing. As the most political of all the departments they take decisions based on the short term media cycle rather than on sound long term economics. Take the pay freeze in the public sector. Sounds exactly like the type of policy the country nerds doesn't it? Reduce pay for public sector workers, cut the deficit and avoid damage to front line services through needing to reduce headcount. Wrong- because the coalition has protected the pay of 30-50% of the workforce with consolidated and pensionable increases and progression payments will still be made, the freeze won't make cashable savings at all add in the loss of productivity from engaging in war with it's own workforce (can anyone say wage rigidity, valency, reciprocity, equity, prospect theory). Alas the freeze represents a huge increase in the billion pound equal pay risks faced by the civil service, NHS and local authorities.

  • Comment number 43.

    Writing as a woman, this is utter drivel, plonkerdom, bull.

    Today, at a hospital on the south coast, I saw 3 women and 1 man 'working' in the A&E reception ignoring the queue of people waiting for attention.

    Given the single hatch position, the job could have been done by 2 and to be frank they could have been martians and done a better job. In fact, it would be better to have transfer payments to mars than the bunch employed, whatever their gender.

    We can either afford stuff or we can't. We can't afford the sort of nonsense I saw today and if we can't the axe will fall where it falls and if it falls on women this time rather than the miners and metal bashers of a time gone by, so be it.

    And #34 is correct. Its the young who are stuffed. Perhaps Students Unions should ask for a judicial review.

  • Comment number 44.

    19. At 5:12pm on 03 Aug 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:

    Excuse me, I'm looking for the BBC coverage of this story - but can't seem to find it anywhere on your website.

    Can someone point me in the right direction?

    Wouldn't want to hide such abysmal human rights abuses now would we?
    What`s that got to do with this topic?

    Anti-White communists are the pits.

  • Comment number 45.

    In response to NonLondonView #41

    A government is not above the law, and as such must pay attention to the restraints that the legislature require. If, as is indicated, boy George has produced a Budget with inbalanced outcomes it breaks the legislature that is in place, and thus becomes unlawful. Whether you personally agree with the legislations that apply, or not, the law is a requirement placed upon the Chancellor.

    Now, boy George and his indepth studies at Oxford, doing his PPE with chummy devious Dave, must have made clear the legislative process, or did he miss the middle-P while dining with the "club"?

    The point concerning other applicable effects of said Budget seem to miss the most pertinent, but not illegal, discrimination against those in the worst situation to help themselves. A society is judge on how it helps the weakest and most vulnerable, for example you can have a "welfare state" (that many of the bloggers here seem to so heartily dislike), or you can have the "free market" (as exampled by America so desperate to appear the land of milk and honey they created the biggest debt bubble in history - let us not forget where the crash began), or you can apply the most efficient view on the need to have wealth at all cost and set-up the camps/workhouses now, or just starve them. Job done, the need to get the debt down, the deficit that is dragging the country to the brink of oblivion, cleared in a trice, but then, what happens when your security is eroded? Many middle-class Germans in the 1930's thought the fiscal problems would avoid them, they were comfortably rich - whoops, there goes another barrowload of Deutschmarks to buy some bread. The problem with the "happy rush" into Thatcherite austerity is that what turned out to be a "recession" can quickly turn into a full blown "depression". I find it interesting that the independent voice of the OBR has remined absent since the Budget, other than the leader leaving the unstable ship.

    If it has not become clear by now that this government does not have the best interests of the majority of the population of its ward as paramount, then I would refer you to the good people of Sheffield and their steel mills. Clearly, the need for budgetry restraint was behind the withdrawl of a loan (not money just thrown away as with Equitable Life policy holders, but money invested in ensuring essential production remained in the UK) not necessarily the interests of a major Tory donor who wanted to buy in to the new production. The "free schools" proposals that hides the opportunity for the Tory government to throw money at failing public schools under the notion of giving parents unhappy with their "local school" the opportunity to do better.

    Recent figures on school standards indicate that the so called 10 years of Labour waste has actually increased the standards achieved by 11-year-olds by 28.6% in English, and 29% in Maths. The previous 19 years of Tory government produced 63% attainment in English and 62% in Maths, as opposed to the "wasteful" increase produced by 10 years of Labour with 81% in English and 80% in Maths. Yes, what we need is to totally restructure the education system on a whimsy that what might be produced will be better. Ask your local Swede what they think of "free schools", find out why Americans think the system works, most will reply it is the selection that makes it work. As with my earlier comments, it works as long as your the one getting the goodies, not so well if your one of the majority having what little you have being taken away.

    Comments concerning women getting the most out of the Labour benefit system, ignores the Thatcherite ethos of "self" that devloped the fractured partenerships that left the single parent families that require support. In a community that for generations depended on industrial production (be it steel, coal, cars, weaving) the sudden, unplanned, withdrawl of the employment structure cannot be imagined unless experienced. Factories that for generations had been the consistent provider gone, replaced with advise to "get on your bike", presumably to find another mine/steelworks/car/textile manufacturer actually employing. These communities found the historical providers of employment replaced by "retail parks", and you guessed it they were employing women, because, you guessed it, they were cheaper and willing to take what was offered. Primary schools/hospitals are full of women who are seen as the "carers" in the family structure, progress to secondary schools and doctors/comsultants and the roles are reversed with male domination. I wonder why?

    The bloggs continue to rationalise a fiction that the debt is enormous, the figures wake you up screaming at night, yet in relation to America, large swathes of Europe (including Germany) the debt is manageable, reducable over a reasonable period (especially in the longevity of the 14 years maturation) and negligeable in comparison to the trillion plus pounds of commercial and personal debt that exists in the UK. It is the embittered Thatcherite Tories, who for 10 years, expected to inherit power by default. The first 5 years they dreamt of taking over by right, that the landslide defeat in 1997 was due to bad PR. Then came the notion for the next 2 elections that it was because they did not appear moderate enough, though at each election they slipped further right. Finally, the cunning plan, breed an alternative Tony Blair, looking good, talking the talk, being debonair, promising it will not hurt. While in the background plotting, as in 1979, a programme of social engineering not seen since Germany in the 1930/40s, a truely monumental redressing of the social fabric far beyond what Dame Magaret would have dreamed of in her wildests rants. Turning the clock back, the NHS to structures that failed in the 1930s, schools back to the 1944 model of secondary moderns and selection, remove all the checks and balances that protect the individual in society from the excesses of the powerful. But, unlike the Iron Lady, do it all at once, total deprivation, so many attacks on society it will not know which to defend and which to attempt to ignore. The cries of injustice will be so loud from all quarters, no clear voice will be heard - as above the notion that taking into acount all the possible institutions that can be destroyed clouds the issues that matter.

    We had all the things the Tories are putting in place prior to the second world war, my father returned from that conflict determined, like so many of his colleagues in that conflict, to have a fairer society a more compassionate society, after the horrors he, and they, had suffered for six long years. This present, so called coalition, is determined to both set the clock back, as far as they can to when the privileged ruled and the rest knew their place. An unelected collection of "chums", as neither the Tories or LibDems presented a manifesto that the country supported. A "presidential campaign" that did not elect a "president", by default the present incumbants stumbled into "office", and the country suddenly realised the lunatics had taken over the assylum. The Tory media, from Murdoch down, had set an X-Factor agenda, dirty tricks American-style abounded throughout the campaign (not by chance were microphones being left on - placed so to speak on somebodies blind side). So desperate are the LibDems to be seen as anything other than a minor party lost in the distant past after the corruption of their last great leader Lloyd George, they will stand, hostage style, in front of the devious activities being performed behind their backs. All for the sake of a referendum on their least favoured electorial system, and a few minor concessions that can be removed when they are not re-elected next time. Job done - the bloggs here indicate it is now safe for the nasties to come out of the woodwork, anyone got some matches to sell?

  • Comment number 46.

    From a website that the BBC will not let me link to due to some naughty language that I`ve not included here(hint-type devil`s Kitchen and fawcett into your favourite search engine,quote:

    "Just for a bit of a giggle, shall we look at the Fawcett Trust's latest accounts [PDF] and see how much the Fawcett Trust received from the government in the last couple of years?

    Received in 2009
    Government Equality Office: £4,500
    Electoral Commission: £80,879
    London Development Agency: £5,000
    London Councils: £17,965
    Total: £108,344 or 17% of the £629,582 total income for 2009 or 29.3% of all "Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities".

    Received in 2008
    Electoral Commission: £10,866
    Department of Communities and Local Government: £19,950
    The Home Office: £42,000
    Equal Opportunities Commission: £10,000
    Total: £82,816 or 28.9% of all "Incoming Resources from Charitable Activities".

    Grand Total for 2008 & 2009: £191,160

    There are also a few other trusts and funds in there which are largely government funded, such as the City Parochial Foundation—gifted £10 million of our money in 1986—and which generously gave the Fawcett Society £35,000 in 2009 and £26,250 in 2008.

    There are a few other interesting names in there too, including a couple of unions (which are massively funded with our cash).

    * Amicus Unite gave £5,880 in 2009, and £2,940 in 2008.
    * UNISON gave two awards in 2009, one of £2,000 and £65,432; in 2008, they gave a mere £15,938.

    Also, there is an interesting donation of £4,006 from the Matrix Causes Fund which is the charitable arm of... yes, Matrix Chambers. I shall assume that this is for services rendered...

    So, could it be that the Fawcett Society is trying to have one last gasp before its funding is slashed to the bone and its collection of pointless succubi are put out of work? One can only hope so.

    In any case, the Fawcett Society's argument is easy to counter.

    In a nutshell, it is that women are disproportionately hit by the cuts in benefits and jobs.

    Which, of course, means that women were disproportionately awarded benefits and jobs.

    Therefore, the previous government—having disproportionately awarded said benefits and jobs to women—was actively discriminating against men, and there should be reparations. Since there is no money left and, alas, the ministers responsible cannot be held financially accountable personally, then there really is only one option...

    All of the women who received disproportionate benefits and jobs must be made to pay back all monies which they received over and above the equivalent male population.

    Because this is about equality, isn't it, my Fawcett darlings, and not about wimmin. So, given that you love equality, you will be demanding that the government claw back the money from these women who have benefited from a sexist policy, eh?"

  • Comment number 47.

    "Leftist" "radicals":

    "Nazi scum,off our streets"


    "Communist scum,out of your taxpayer-funded plush offices and eateries!"

  • Comment number 48.

    Any opposition to this government is good. Where are the "opposition" at the moment? Inspecting navels, battling for leadership votes whilst the poor, working class folk face being battered by the ConDems. All power to Fawcett elbows as they seem to be forming the main opposition to the nastier than Thatcher policies about to hit us all.
    The judicial review should be about the disproportionate hit to be taken on the poor versus the rich. Percentage cuts are inherently unfair. If Child Allowance forms 5% of your income a freeze doesn't matter too much. If it forms 25% a freeze matters so much more. The Fawcett Society is battling for the less well off and as such needs to be supported by free thinkers of a social mind.
    Labour, where have you gone? The Unions, where have you gone? The Media, where is your opposition?
    There is simply no need for 40% draconian cuts to please the "markets". At least Thatcher was mostly honest.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm getting really tired with all these "weaners" moaning about cuts.

    The facts are these;

    10's of thousands of people die unnecessarily in UK hospitals every year due to infections, pressure ulcers, poor surgery and often negligent care, of which most could be avoided. There are cost effective solutions available but getting through the layers upon layers of "middle" management is like trying to herd cats.

    With the greatest respect to women and women in business in the private sector , most of these "middle" management are female and are completely useless and totally self serving. I have in my 20 years in healthcare had to sit through countless meetings which are in essence just talking shops, pay for their lunch and then listen to false promises about how they are going to change things.

    They all need to go and get a job where they are forced to deliver an end result and leave the NHS to the people who really know what they are doing, but can't because of the "middle" management. Get rid of them and as a country, we get to;

    Save money
    Save time


    Save lives!

    I am sure that the same situation is everywhere in the public sector, all have loads of "qualifications" (often paid for by the taxpayer) but actually deliver very little...

    Lets get on with it and get these people out NOW!

  • Comment number 50.

    There was an edition of The Economist (maybe December 2009) that suggested that, in the USA (maybe by now) more women would be employed than men. It was a triumphalist edition with "we did it!" emblazoned on the cover.

    It was a little controversial and talked about the "mancession" [good ol' Borat! ;)] without (thankfully!) referring to man-flu in the kind of discriminatory and derogatory way some "Alpha" females (who may not have taken the Alpha course) may have done in the "bad old days" of anti-male discrimination (what is the word for the equivalent of misogyny by the way?).

    Anyway, it's worth a read; it's hardly the stuff of "Mona Lisa Smile".

    More the stuff of those that *bizarrely?) argue the world's women won the first world war (until the flu came home - clearly that wasn't, to use the old vernacular, "*bird* flu" "love").

  • Comment number 51.

    #43 Mrs Bloggs13c2

    Writing as another woman, I totally agree with your view
    ... this is utter drivel, plonkerdom, bull.

  • Comment number 52.

    Like so many other pieces, this is journalism by press release

    The first question any journalist should ask when handed a press release is 'what's in it for them?' and then should follow the money.

    Time and time again if you do what #46 has done you'd write a different piece.

    In this case it might be some thing like

    The Fawcett Society,today announced that it would seek a judicial review of the impact of the 2010 budget on women.

    The society was given grants by government departments and agencies of £109k in 2009 and £82k in 2008. This is in the region of 17% of revenue.

    The society whose mission is to increase equality between men and women has all women trustees and all women staff, according to its website.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh please! Let us stop this desire on all parts ot make issues gender, religious or sexuality specific.

    Many agree that it is unfair women have to have children and interupt their earnings and change their lifestyles to take account of that. However, that is how we are designed. It is not fair but it is life - live with it.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think the more worrying fact is no research, scientific, social, gender or otherwise, has been carried out as to actual effects of the cuts, not even into the chances of this causing a double dip recession and the long term damage and cost that could cause, it’s been dreamed up by a load of toffs, who’s friends, family and peers will suffer none of the adverse effects financially or socially as they will all just retreat to their gated/moated communities and private healthcare.

    If this coalition is to be taken seriously at any point, they first must remove George Osborne who is nothing more than sham and an insult to people of this country.

  • Comment number 55.

    Who are these people and why should we care what they think?This is a totally spurious arguement that has been dreamt up by an academic with nothing else to do.At best its a sweeping genrelaistion based on very limited data that may have no relevance to the real world.At worst its a damning indictment of the crazy world of left/right wing pressure groups who have far too much say in politics already and are largely responsible for many of the liberalisation of society that has afforded no one any real benefit.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 45. At 02:05am on 04 Aug 2010, honestgeraldinho wrote:

    not much to say. great post.

  • Comment number 57.

    Hmm... on reflection I *am* waiting for your "generational impact" study of the cuts now (especially comparing supportive-family and non-supportive-family contexts).

    Then, what next? "public/state-school-educated impact" study of the cuts: rising number of public-school-educated women in high-profile jobs does not, *actually*, mean a falling number of state-school-educated men in high-profile jobs? with implications for their respective public/state-school-educated spouses?

    You've got your work cut out for you Stephanie!

  • Comment number 58.

    This is a well-balanced article, taking into consideration a number of factors why women will be hit more by budget cuts. I take exception to the point about the percentage increase in pay rises, however, between men and women - women still have a pay gap to close so they are not starting from the same base. The other point I would highlight is that men as well as women are responsible for bringing up children.It follows, therefore, that even though the budget cuts may impact money that a women receives, the money is in fact related to families - men, women and children - rather than just women.

  • Comment number 59.

    If only 35% of government employees are men, is the government guilty of sex discrimination, jsut as miuch as might be said the other way round for private employers? Why is there such a difference between the public and private sectors?

  • Comment number 60.

    "The disparity comes largely, but not entirely, from the fact that child benefit is usually paid to mothers..."
    But mothers are not supposed to spend this benefit on lipstick and new skirts, are they? Isn't it supposed to be used for their chidlren - who could as equally be male or female children? Thus taking account of the gender of the person who physically collects the benefit is completely irrelevant as the beneficiary could be of either gender.
    But maybe it's a good thing the Fawcett Society have come up with this - the publicity about their funding helping those looking for the next place to make cuts...

  • Comment number 61.

    #45 - honestgeraldinho

    An interesting post, and sidestepping the party political propaganda for Labour, you make a number of reasonable points - eerily enough, two of the best ones apply to any government; that you can't expect any given government to put the best interests of the majority paramount (each party inherantly promotes special interests from its own power base) and that as long as someone is getting the goodies and/or not having them taken away, the system appears to be just and work fine.

    The welfare state and free market are exclusive decisions, as you appeared to claim, but two different points on a scale where goverments either control and allocate all spending (e.g. Communism) or only the absolute minimum of spending necessary to keep society functioning at all (e.g. full free market capitalism).

    If there is an ideal point on that scale, history suggests we've never knowingly discovered it. My guess is that each point has its benefits and drawbacks, and that as a society we have to decide what combination of both suits us best.

    I also personally think its somewhat unfair to blame Thatcher alone or the Tories in general for the relentless shift away from manufacturing to tertiary jobs. No subsequent government has reversed the decline and for a fair chunk of it there's globalisation to blame. Britain is an expensive country in world terms - we have expensive workers in terms of global average salaries and the exchange rate makes buying goods made in Britain costly.

    With the rise of countries locating sections of their workforce internationally to take advantage of cheaper labour costs, etc. manufacturing of phsyical goods was always going to face decline. The only 'easy' ways to address that were either to slash wage costs to compete against the third world (any takers?), carve out a high-market or highly innovative niche, or accept the decline and develop other sources of employment. Protectionism would only work if Britain was prepared to attempt being self-sufficient and accept the higher costs associated with avoiding the benefits of globalisation.

    Accepting the decline and moving towards a bigger service sector might not have been the best move with hindsight, but I doubt it was done with malicious intent.

    For all the faults of our political classes, I don't believe Thatcher led a government intending to attack the working classes and more than I believe Gordon Brown went into power intending to wreck the economy. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

    But why not step aside from the politics for a change? It might be easier to believe Gordon was stitched up with the microphone (although it was his choice to vent at Gillian Duffy) to save political face, but the truth is that no single party presented a manifesto that the majority of the country supported. Not the Tories, not Labour, not the Lib Dems.

    Personally, I'm risking a bit of hope in the coalition. A right-left mixture of government, coupled with more interest and engagement from the public in general might just get some of the best bits from both sides. A Lab-Con coalition could have done the same, but there's too much historic antagonism for that to work effectively in practice...

    True, it could all go horribly wrong, but I'd personally love to see the death of tribal politics and a movement towards electing politicians and governments based on their policies, rather than "...anyone but the Tories" or "...anyone but Labour".

    Oh well, can but dream I guess. ;)

  • Comment number 62.

    Was there an audit carried out when these benefits and public sector 'non-jobs' were introduced to ensure that men and women benefitted equally from them, and that the taxation to pay for them also fell equally upon men and women?

    I suspect not.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    Given that just over 52% of the population are femail and that 58 or so % of university graduates are femail. cuts will always hit the woman hardest.

  • Comment number 65.

    You argue that the well-placed baby boomers are protected rather better than the young and also that much of their wealth has come from property values they have neither earned nor contributed to. How come you don't make the entirely consequential proposal that capital gains tax on all or part of the gains on sale of private property could be taxed to reduce the inequality between old and young? What would be wrong with taxing such gains over say £50,000?

    Forgive my unwillingness to read all previous comments to see if this point has already been made.

  • Comment number 66.

    Bearing in mind the previous Thatcher government's policy to gear economic policy to the advantage of the City and to the disadvantage of large provincial centres, it would be interesting for Stephanie Flanders to comment on the possibility of this happening again, with the public sector cuts. London of course already has a massive advantage with its's wealth as wellasfor example,massive extra government spending per head on transport costs.

  • Comment number 67.

    It sounds like we urgently need an enquiry it exactly why public services vastly, disproportionately benefit women, and how / why this unfair situation was allowed to continue over many years.

  • Comment number 68.

    It would seem that human beings may have an unconscious bias that works in the favour of men in matters relating to work and money and power. Some may see it as discrimination against women, but that is one perspective and way of looking at it, rather I think it is more of an advantage for men due to their nature and overall traditional roles that makes them suited for these spheres of life.

    However, this is just an observation and I don't reject any protest from any women who may feel they are being wronged or getting the short end of the stick due to the new budget measures.

  • Comment number 69.

    Comment 45 is much too long. I don't have time to read it, and nor will many other people. If you can't express yourself pithily in less than 300 words, please publish a book instead, or get a job with the BBC. The house rules should set a sensible size limit to prevent this type of posting.

  • Comment number 70.

    It is an interesting observation and whilst I do agree with teh Author - that the statistics is far from up to date as well as the widely acknowledged fact that women are underpaid as compared to men in private sector jobs, I would like to draw the attention to another issue - women who are divorced and are partly or entirely relying on the financial maintenance payments from their ex-spouses.

    Even though they pay no taxes and make no contribution to the economy at all, they are nevertheless receipients of numerous benefits as well as regular payments of so-called "maintenance". With more men losing their jobs and/or accepting reduction in income - the women dependant on it will feel the "pinch" very acutely, as it will be coming from both sides: government and earning men.

    This will also put additional pressure on the men tehmselves (as regrettably very few of divorces are conducted in amicable manner), subsequently causing a rise in Court applications for maintenance increase, cutting men's disposable income even further and in cases where the jobs are lost - leaving those women to fend for themselves after the years of ineptitude or relatively relaxed living.

  • Comment number 71.

    no 67. Absolutely. well put, brief and to the point.

  • Comment number 72.

    Agree totally with comment 67 - in the interests of equality we need many enquiries as to why many areas of life benefit woman, like crime, divorce, percieved good manners, conscription...and the list goes on
    and 68, why do you think that is? Could it be that in most cases (like 80-90% perhaps) men are expected to be the providers and woman the carers...if woman wish men to share the caring so they can share the working then gaining 50% custody in divorce should be a matter of fact and not a chance in a hundred...equality, yes please.

  • Comment number 73.

    Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what percentage of the "Fawcett Society" staff team (10 people) are male?

  • Comment number 74.


    Or the number of male trustees on their board?

  • Comment number 75.

    Why are Steph's and Robert's most recent blogs closed? I haven't seen that before. I wonder if anyone will read this!

    618. At 00:19am on 13 Aug 2010, you wrote:
    616. At 10:47pm on 12 Aug 2010, natty_1 wrote:

    'Remantled/WOTW - many thanks.

    And now a question if I may?

    Scenario: Natural Born Pessimist. Sees evils all around. Doesn't like banks (in their current form) - or other financial institions. Has a little cash (less than 20k); can add based on current form around 5-7k on top pa. No outstanding credit or overdraft. No property. No skills in doing something "useful" - like farming, etc - in case world goes TU. Only 38yrs and believes more than likely it will go TU in current lifetime.

    673. At 9:45pm on 13 Aug 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    616. At 10:47pm on 12 Aug 2010, natty_1 wrote:

    "No skills in doing something "useful""

    natty_1 I owe you an apology. When I originally read the "No skills in doing something "useful" I thought you were talking about me and took offence (I'd had a couple of beers) Sorry.

    My strategy is this; I just have to implement it, which now, as I am about to state it I hope I do.

    I start from a good level of fitness but from here on out it really starts.

    Monday nights - Running club. For stamina and so I can out run any angry mob.

    Tuesday nights - Gym. For power, just in case said angry mob catches me.

    Wednesday - Cinema. For R and R

    Thursday night - Double Muay Thai class. To hone my self defence skills

    Friday, Saturday and Sunday - A choice from any of the above and a rest.

    I don't want to sound holier than thou but we all know what we should be doing. After I turned 17 and spent the subsequent 17 years dismantling myself I intend to remantle and give myself the best possible chance should things go TU.

    I also recommend reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War. I think it helped me to understand some of the Governments manoeuvrings to certain positions (and I haven't lost a game of chess since).

    Another book I've just re-read is Bruce Lee's Commentaries on the Martial Way, Volume 3. A very good read (WOTW I recommend a peruse and I'm keen to know which art you chose). It reminds us that if we are ever confronted, don't box, STREET FIGHT.

    I hope some people wander here and read this. I think it is a good strategy for one's survival but I am keen to hear others.

    When Bobby and Steph are back I will copy and paste this so natty_1 gets to hear my strategy. Oh and keep on reading and watching the links like minded bloggers post. Such as CD, PR, AJ, WOTW, JC, gos, BR, S, NSH, FDD, JFH, SDM, TFC, D. Sorry if I have missed anyone.

    Trust your instincts and don't believe the lies.

  • Comment number 76.

    I've just asked Goldman Sucks to lend me all the money in the world.

    They said they would loan it to me but at 10% interest. I said no problem.

    They've now lent me all the money in the world, where am i going to get this extra 10% from?

    Is this fundamentally how banking works?

  • Comment number 77.

    Can I just remind people some points here.

    The UK public deficit for this year is likely to be around £150 Billion, that means we have to cut expendture at some point, we need to see what we can afford and what we can't, you just can't keep borrowing, that is how we got into this mess, we need to reform.

    The public sector is bloated in a lot of areas, I work in it and I can not believe some of the silly jobs and empire building that goes on at taxpayers expense, we have taken on too many extra workers, therefore due to the budget constraints we need to cut jobs, we need to reform.

    The public sector pension scheme is just unsustainable, we can't have people retiring at 60 and living to 90 on a final salary index linked pension, the scheme is estimated over a period of time to have a £1 trillion deficit, we can't afford it, we need to reform.

    Social Security needs to be reformed, we can't as a country keep paying out universal benefits, we have to get real, especially with the growing population of retired people, someone has to pay the bill for benefits, we need to reform.

    The Fawcett Society needs to get real, the situation is that bad, and is going to be for a long time to come, cuts don't just effect women, they effect families and that includes men. The age of easy money, growing public sector and universal benefits is over, welcome to modern Britain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Four people all perform the same job in a business:

    Person A

    Person B

    Person C

    Person D

    Two of the four posts are made redundant and no matter which combination of two people are chosen discrimination of a kind can be claimed!:

    AB = Old people, Atheists
    AC = White people
    AD = Males
    BC = Females
    BD = Black people
    CD = Young people, Christians

    Point is that usually some group of people will always come off worst and it often cannot be avoided, it doesn't automatically mean that group was being intentionally discriminated against.

  • Comment number 79.

    Listening to the coalition slogan "We are in this togeteher" seems to have become a mantra used to dumb down the brains of MPs, Civil Servants, Businesses outside the South West and in particular London.

    It would appear even the logical and communicative Vince Cable has succumbed to the Mantra and is now wandering around - presumably chanting it quietly under his breath,

    This mantra clearly has the full support of the main creators and now the main beneficiaries of the global economic crisis.

    Those not fooled or hypnotised by the mantra are still able to look at the facts, such as:

    - The banker’s bonuses - everyone despises these, understands they go on unabated and are helpless to do anything about it. Unlike Vince those benefitting iot do not chant the mantra under their breath they compose football like chants to convince everyone its true
    - The bank are growing their wealth with massive margins on Mortgages, Credit Cards, Loans and any other wheeze they can – why not they have a monopoly – wouldn’t you?
    - Businesses providing services to the Banks - I read today Michael Page announced half year profits - so they are in it together with us - lots of cuts and no bonuses
    - I read recently that the house price scenario was mixed - higher priced property in many areas of the South West rising and set to rise faster - I dare not mention that this is to do with the booming bankers and city dealers.
    Whilst their Houses rise, properties where a large populations of Public Sector workers are falling - the cuts will mean many will be unable to afford the mortgages which in turn will push the prices down further -
    But never mind we are all in it together.
    - Public Sector procurement appears now slanted to large South West companies - a fact I will publish some research on. Of course the number of companies based in the North providing services to the London based thriving city boomers is dramatically increasing - think I dreamt that
    So maybe the mantra "We are all in this together" isn't true - or am I just a sceptical Northern no hoper with the brain of a pea?
    A more honest Mantra for those chanting it incessantly would be “We are not in it – but you are (together)” but maybe they wouldn’t get away with it

  • Comment number 80.

    Maybe my last blog message could be read by Stephanie - maybe she can put me right and explain to me why I should buy into the mantra

  • Comment number 81.

    The UK bugdet cuts are said to be the most tough in a western democracy -a lot of courage in the UK!

    The private households in the UK have relatively high debths, the mortgages and house prices show this, the private consumers have not so much room.

    The economic growth that creates new jobs and rises the public income is needed - it has been 1,1% (exactly the half of Germany: 2,2%).

    The United Kingdom has been affected mostly of all major European economies because of its specific structure: the key industries Germany has are missing in the UK.

    The UK economy seems to be in a negative economic circle: inflation is relatively high (3,1 % - Eurozone only 1,7%). Tough cuts are ahead, that means not a well outlook on the labour market.

    The situaion in the US is also not so stable as it seemed since last autumns - high unemployment, many poor people with high debths which don´t rise private consumation.

    Not good news!

  • Comment number 82.

    Think! maybe women are more inclined to want something for nothing.

  • Comment number 83.

    Or maybe you know a women who always gose dutch!

  • Comment number 84.

    The problem with the government is it cannot create jobs,the budget cuts do not go any where near far enough.The government needs to slash spending on the NHS,and all social programs,instead of creating more and more regulation.
    The reason the is no longer a Berlin wall is because the communists they don't need in any more,it is hard to believe the government has gotten as big and invasive as it is.

  • Comment number 85.

    As I read through several comments the word 'chauvenistic' immediately came to mind.
    I am not a female but the reading of the distributed effects upon gender is to me an equally important issue to consider as would be to the demographical concern.
    I think from the reading of the the HYS comments we should have a further analysis based upon brain cell count.
    Information derived from sensible analyses can only be considered as 'highly invaluable' when one must understand that such analyses are not thoroughly carried through by any Government. Politicians like to look clever but at the end of the day they just make a shot in the dark and trust to luck.
    Thank you Stephanie for bringing forward something that had obviously not been duly considered before by anyone else - even including from the 'panel of experts' here replying to your article.

  • Comment number 86.

    As I read through several comments the word 'chauvenistic' immediately came to mind.
    I am not a female but the reading of the distributed effects upon gender is to me an equally important issue to consider as would be to the demographical concern.
    I think from the reading of the the HYS comments we should have a further analysis based upon brain cell count.
    Information derived from sensible analyses can only be considered as 'highly invaluable' when one must understand that such analyses are not thoroughly carried through by any Government. Politicians like to look clever but at the end of the day they just make a shot in the dark and trust to luck.
    Thank you Stephanie for bringing forward something that had obviously not been duly considered before by anyone else - even including from the 'panel of experts' here replying to your article.

  • Comment number 87.

    HOW VERY CLEVER, when the we should be working together to ensure the real culprits in all of this don't simply transfer the pain to working men and women we get divisive nonsense like this. Maybe the Fawcet society should go analyse which gender is suffering the most from unemployment.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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