This week, Labour’s Woman to Woman tour reached Cumbria and the North East. Our distinctive campaign minibus made stops in Carlisle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Thornaby-on-Tees and Redcar. On-board were Shadow Cabinet ministers, Harriet Harman, Emma Reynolds, Catherine McKinnell, Sharon Hodgson and Roberta Blackman-Woods, who over three days heard directly from local women about the challenges they face.
At a time when women and their families have never had it so tough, this Government has hit women and their families hardest. Independent House of Commons research has found £22 billion out of the £26 billion (85 per cent) of cash raised over this Parliament from tax and benefit changes has come from women’s pockets.
According to the IFS families with children have been hit hardest of all by David Cameron’s choices - a clear betrayal of his promise to lead the most family-friendly government ever.
Since this Government introduced of Tribunal fees, the number of claims for sex discrimination has fallen by 91 per cent.
Despite a rise in recorded rapes and reported incidents of domestic violence Police referrals for rape have fallen by 28 per cent since 2010 and prosecutions are down 14 per cent.
The story of this recovery has been one of low-wage, insecure and temporary work – hitting women particularly hard. Over a quarter of all working women are now on low pay and make up the majority of workers on zero-hour contracts.
Childcare costs have soared under this Government with the price of a nursery place in this region up 53% per cent since 2010.
So what will Labour do for the region’s women…
Labour will act to deliver Equal Pay for women. With a Labour Government companies with more than 250 workers will have to publish their hourly pay gap in their annual report because shining a light on the problem will encourage us all to tackle it.
An £8 minimum wage under Labour benefit women most. A quarter of working women are now earning less than the living wage. We’ll help women and their families make work pay. In our first year in office Labour will give every employer back 1/3rd of the cost of raising their staff’s pay to the living wage.
We’ll support families to better balance work and childcare. We will extend free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds of working parents to 25 hours to support more parents back to work – and that’s on top of Tax-Free Childcare. This could help 8,000 parents return to work in the North East & Cumbria.
Labour will reform the tribunal system to ensure cost is never a barrier to justice for those who’ve experienced discrimination at work.
Labour’s better plan will give this region’s women the support they deserve.