Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:37 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Treasury) 9:37 pm, 26th October 2010

I am afraid I do not have time.

What about the impact on women? Our research has shown-we have had to do our own research, because this Government seem to have abandoned any notion of doing real and meaningful equality impact assessments, and I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper for her work on it-that the cuts hit women twice as hard as men, without considering the impact of cuts to public services. We know that 65% of public sector workers are women and that two thirds of the public sector redundancies arising from the spending review are expected to be women.

Of the £16 billion cuts in total, £11 billion comes from women. Some 72% of the emergency Budget cuts will be met from women's income, and in the CSR cuts £5.7 billion will be taken from women compared with just £2.7 billion from men. A million more women claim housing benefit than men, 70% of tax credits are paid to mothers, 94% of child benefit is paid to mothers and 90% of lone parents are women. So much for being family friendly. So much for looking after every sort of family. So much for doing everything they can to support the family.

My hon. Friend Toby Perkins stole my line earlier when he talked about the Government believing in women and children being first when it came to cuts. The phrase "women and children first" comes from a mariners' saying when a ship is doomed to sink, and what we are discussing today is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Bill might be tiny in terms of written content-it is just three pages and four clauses-but it does a huge amount of damage. It scraps the support that we have given to families to help them save through the saving gateway. It scraps the chance a child from a poor family had to enter adult life with a little pot of money to help them fulfil their dreams and ambitions, something that hon. Members on the Government Benches, with their multi-million pound trust funds, could never hope to understand. It snatches away money from pregnant women-money that was designed to help them have healthy, happy pregnancies and healthy, happy babies.

We on the Labour Benches will carry on fighting for those families and for children who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and we will oppose the Bill tonight.