Rishi Sunak’s five promises fail to address affordable childcare

Both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer started the year with big speeches, laying out their vision for the country. As young women ask for your support in signing their letter to Rishi Sunak, Young Women’s Trust’s Policy and Campaigns Manager takes a look at what this might mean for young women.

Last year may have been defined by chaos, politically at least, but the opening exchanges of this year appear to have been much more predictable. It may still be more than a year before the next general election is expected, but over the past few weeks, it has felt like we are in the very early stages of campaigning. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, have been saying what they believe the country needs.

The speeches both seek to address the challenges of the cost of living crisis but also set out longer-term visions for the country. Young women, who are worried that the current crisis is costing their futures, will be listening eagerly to see how the alternatives on offer affect them.

Sunak’s five foundations

Rishi Sunak based his vision on a series of pledges which he described as “five foundations, on which to build a better future”. The Prime Minister promised to:

  1. Halve inflation
  2. Grow the economy
  3. Secure the future of public services
  4. Cut NHS waiting times
  5. Limit immigration by small boats.

Cost of living is the crisis affecting young women’s futures

The promise to get the rising cost of living under control is a particularly important one. The crisis is already forcing young women to make radical changes such as eating lower quality food or going without altogether and considering whether they have enough to survive, let alone thrive.

It is having an impact now, but also putting their futures at risk. 62% of young women feel their future prospects have got worse over the past 6 months. We are hearing of young women dropping out of or delaying education so they can work more, or not pursuing development opportunities because they are just struggling to make ends meet. The target is a difficult one to achieve with many experts predicting that inflation will remain high and other influencers of rising prices, such as the war in Ukraine are out of the government’s control, but young women will be hoping the Prime Minister can keep his promise.

Young women want good quality jobs

The Prime Minister’s ambition for growth will be especially difficult to achieve in the short term given all the pressures on the economy but the desire for better-paid jobs will be one that resonates with young women.

On average, young women earn a fifth less than men of the same age. They face barriers to progression, continue to face discrimination and high childcare costs keep them out of the workplace or in low-paid jobs that fail to make use of their skills and potential. So young women will be hoping this promise will mean a return of the long-awaited Employment Review which could help drive growth by creating modern workplaces that support more people to flourish and make use of their talents. For this same reason, the promise to secure the future of public services must also be backed strong investment in childcare, a commitment that is noticeable in its absence from the Prime Minister’s pledges.

Inclusive politics

Keir Starmer, meanwhile, set out plans to modernise government, give away power to communities. His vision of a more inclusive politics is important for young women who feel they are ignored by politicians. Half of young women told us that they have little or no trust in the government to provide the necessary support during the cost-of-living crisis. However, young women want to have a say in political decisions and 4 in 10 would 82% of young women are likely to vote if there is a general election in the next 12 months.

In this respect, young women will expect a vision to be matched by a willingness to listen and respond to the challenges facing them. The opposition leader’s conclusion that parts of British life are broken – notably housing, skills and childcare, shows a recognition of some of the key issues but he has, so far, given little detail of how he would attempt to resolve them.

Young women are asking for an audience with the Prime Minister and I would like to ask you to add your support.
Sign their open letter

Rishi Sunak’s five promises – an analysis.