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Gender Economic Inequality

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 26 November 2015

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at our party conference last month, we cannot have true opportunity without real equality. I am very proud that we now have more women in work, more women on boards and the lowest pay gap on record across the UK, but we must continue to make progress. Women will be the main beneficiaries of the new national living wage and the rise in the personal allowance.

I thank the Minister for that response, but as she acknowledged in response to an earlier question, the overwhelming majority of care workers are women, and they face low pay, zero-hours contracts and non-payment of travel time as a consequence of financial pressures on the sector. Professor Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, among others, is clear that yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor will not plug the funding gap in the care sector. What will the Minister do to secure a fair deal for care workers?

One of the greatest things we can do is introduce the national living wage, which will proportionately benefit more women than men, and employers in the care sector and other employers will have to pay it.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that people should be able to pursue their career without worrying about their sex, sexuality or sexual identity, and that everyone has the right to pursue a full role in the workplace?

I thank my hon. Friend, who puts it really well. I particularly want to answer that question in the context of transgender people, who often face discrimination in the workplace as well as in their day-to-day lives. That is why I am today publishing guidance for employers and service providers to improve knowledge and understanding about supporting those who are transgender. It is an important step, but I want us to continue to raise awareness of the issues and discrimination facing many transgender and non-binary people.