In response to the Autumn Statement 2022, Claire Reindorp, CEO of Young Women’s Trust, says:
“These are deeply stressful, painful times for many young women – they tend to be in lower paid jobs, doing more unpaid work like childcare, and more reliant on benefits. They already earn, on average, a fifth less than young men per year, and are less likely than older people to have built up savings, so they don’t have as many resources to cope with the current crisis.
So young women will be relieved that the Chancellor has done the right thing and uprated benefits in line with inflation. This should never have been in doubt. While the government has been going back on forth on this decision, millions of young women have been put in the agonising position of not knowing if they’ll even be given a fighting chance to make ends meet. They’ve been skipping meals. Sitting in cold, dark homes. Dangerously walking to and from shift work late at night because they can’t afford to get there any other way. Taking on more debt, that they wonder how they’ll repay. But they can’t hang on like this till April. We need to get more money in their pockets more urgently, to help them get through this winter.
While the government has been going back on forth on this decision, millions of young women have been put in the agonising position of not knowing if they’ll even be given a fighting chance to make ends meet.
The government has also made the right choice in increasing the National Living Wage from £9.40 per hour to £10.42. Young women are overrepresented in the lowest paid jobs, and as the costs of everything from petrol to potatoes to period products have been spiralling, they’ve been struggling more and more just to make ends meet. This welcome increase in the minimum wage will help, though let’s not forget that those who are under 23 receive a much lower minimum wage. This isn’t fair – it doesn’t cost less to live if you’re under 23.
Childcare has been completely overlooked from this budget. The Chancellor says infrastructure is one of his priorities – childcare is a key part of the infrastructure that would support more young women into work and keep them there. Rather than penalising part-time workers by demanding they meet job coaches unless they increase their hours, the government must invest in the childcare they need. As an immediate measure, the government must support childcare providers to cover the increases in the National Living Wage, to prevent even more going out of business – but much wider reform is needed to make childcare available and accessible to all.
As we saw confirmation today that the country is in recession, we must remember that young people and women are often the first to lose their jobs when times get tough. We can’t let this cost of living crisis cost young women their futures. As the government makes its choices as to how to get us out of this crisis, they must listen to young women instead of leaving them behind.”