For all Budgets, Treasury Ministers very carefully assess the gender impact of the various measures under consideration. We do that as a statutory duty, but we also do it because it is our firm policy to do so. Of course, one of our centrepieces in the Budget was the 4.4% increase in the national living wage from this April, which will disproportionately benefit women.
Women still bear the brunt of the Government’s failed austerity agenda. What was the Minister’s assessment of the autumn Budget’s financial impact on women and those with protected characteristics?
As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Government constantly carry out assessments. There are various assessments of the impacts of all fiscal events, but I point him not only to the national living wage increase, which disproportionately benefits women, but to the personal allowance increase that takes many hundreds of thousands of women out of tax altogether. Of course, by 2019-20 we will spend some £6 billion a year on childcare, a record level of expenditure.
I finally received a letter from the Government Equalities Office in regards to an equality impact assessment. If, as the Minister has just stated, the impact assessment was carried out, it would have shown that 86% of the Government cuts would have fallen on women. Why then did the Government continue with these damaging policies?
As I have pointed out, the Government have taken many, many measures—I have just listed some of them in the recent Budget—that specifically assist women on issues such as childcare, the personal tax allowance increases and the national living wage increase that will come in from this April. We will continue to rigorously assess all measures, as we do around all fiscal events, to ensure that women are treated fairly and are an absolute priority for this Government.