In response to the Autumn Statement 2023, Claire Reindorp, CEO of Young Women’s Trust, says:
“For those young women who continue to bear the brunt of this cost of living crisis today’s announcements will bring some sense of relief. Yet, as they worry about their future prospects they will know there were also missed opportunities to provide them with the support they need.
The confirmation that the National Living Wage will be increased by more than a pound an hour from April to £11.44 at the same time as extending it all those aged 21 and over is an important if overdue step in supporting low paid and younger workers. It is also welcome news that the Chancellor has listened to reason and increased benefits by the September rate of inflation of 6.7%. This decision will soften the blow of continuing price rises but it is one that should never have been in doubt.
It is also encouraging to hear the Chancellor talk about removing barriers to work for parents and those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
However, these decisions also highlight the opportunities the Chancellor has missed to go further and fully back young women, who are disproportionately likely to be on low pay. Extending the National Living Wage to all those aged 18 and over would have provided a much needed boost to those younger women who will not benefit from the higher rates announced today.
And whilst the increases to Universal Credit are welcome, the rates most will receive continue to mean they are unable to cover even essential living costs. We want to see the Chancellor introduce an Essentials Guarantee which makes sure the basic rate of Universal Credit is always enough to cover the costs of essentials.
We must also ensure that the Government’s Back to Work Plan doesn’t unfairly penalise young women by adding tougher sanctions to an already harsh sanctions regime. The welfare system must be one that effectively supports young women to find work which fits their skills and aspirations with financial support while they transition into work.
Over the coming months the Government must take further steps to listen to young women and help them meet the challenges they face. This must include taking further action to remove barriers to work whilst ensuring better job security, progression and equality in the workplace to help guarantee them a brighter future.”