Statement from Young Women's Trust: Coronavirus & school Closures

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Speaking today Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women's Trust said:

"Now the Government has taken emergency action to close the country's schools, we desperately need an emergency response to the disproportionate impact this will have on women, many of whom have no job protection or sick pay owing to their reliance on part-time and precarious contracts that fit around their care responsibilities. They will be hit hardest by the loss of work and earnings as they now stay home to look after their children around the clock.

For those mothers of children who receive Free School Meals the impact of school closures on their ability to feed their family will be particularly stark.The voucher system announced by the Government today will be vital to giving these families the support they need but it must be set at a level that allows families to get the food they need whilst ensuring that, amidst reports of empty supermarket shelves, supplies reach the most vulnerable.

Our research has previously found that even before the coronavirus a staggering one in four mums aged under 25 skipped meals every day to make ends meet, rising to 37% for those on universal credit. We also know that the unpaid work done by young women is worth £140 billion to the Treasury - a vital resource even as those who provide it are driven into poverty. 

For all of these reasons, young women are one of the most economically vulnerable groups in the country. While deeply challenging and uncertain times lie ahead for everyone, we urgently need the Government to include young women in their thinking and include emergency measures to protect jobs, drastically improve statutory sick pay, suspend all benefit sanctions and provide food and sustained financial support to families who face financial hardship."