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Effects of 2016 Budget

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 14 April 2016

10. What assessment she has made of the effect of measures in the 2016 Budget on different genders. (904451)

The 2016 Budget helped 790,000 women and 540,000 men by cutting their income tax to zero. It helped 7.4 million women and 5.6 million men with an increase in their state pension, thanks to the triple lock. It helped millions of men and women drivers by freezing their fuel duty. Finally, the national living wage gave an immediate pay rise to 900,000 women and 500,000 men this month.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but she might be aware that the Labour party has commissioned research which shows that, since 2010, 86% of the total amount of cash saved from benefit changes and tax savings has come from women, disproportionately. Since the autumn statement, that figure has increased by 5%. How much more do women have to take the brunt of this Government before action is taken?

We completely do not accept that analysis, which, by the way, has not been published. It appears to take into account the fact that the child benefit for higher rate women, such as myself, has been removed. Is the hon. Gentleman making the case that that child benefit should be returned to higher rate taxpayers? Also, that analysis has not even been published, but similar analysis assumes that extra Government borrowing can make everybody better off—that does sound like the Labour party.

The Government’s own figures show that since 2010 there has been a dramatic drop—more than 10,000—in the number of women taking equal pay cases to the tribunal, yet over the same period there has been a significant increase in the number of men doing so. Can the Minister explain those figures?

I would have thought that the hon. Lady would welcome the fact that the gender pay gap is narrowing so much. In fact, the steps that we have taken in the 2016 Budget, which will increase the pay of 900,000 women, mean that the gender pay gap for the lowest paid will have been eliminated by 2020.

Does the Minister agree that the Chancellor’s measures on small business rates will be hugely beneficial to business women across the country?

I agree with my hon. Friend. I also point out that we are making substantial progress on the number of businesses in this country owned and managed by women, which I believe will also lead to greater gender equality.

The Opposition welcome the Budget announcement about the removal of VAT on tampons, following the campaign led by my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff). However, given that the Chancellor has previously reassured me that the £15 million raised from this tax would be providing funds to domestic violence charities and women’s refuges, can the Minister clarify something for me? Did the Budget include a £15 million cut to women’s charities, and where is this Government’s long-term economic plan for women’s safety?

I can confirm that the £15 million announced in the Budget will be allocated to the charities that the Chancellor announced. We have also announced a further £80 million of support for those kinds of initiatives to tackle violence against women in our society.