Equality: Pay and Opportunities — Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:23 am on 8th March 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Department for International Development) 11:23 am, 8th March 2012

I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for her work in this area and for chairing the Women and Work Commission and its later update, which is an impressive piece of work. She will be aware that the trend is in the right direction. It is very marked. If you look at 1970, there was a 38.2 per cent gender pay gap and in 2011 it was 9.2 per cent. But we cannot be complacent and the issues that she has flagged up rightly identify some of the challenges that face women in work.

Under the universal credit, we will be extending the amount of support to childcare for those working less than 16 hours a week-so those working part-time-and that should assist 80,000 families. We are extending the right to request flexible working to employees. It is also extremely important to note that there are many more apprenticeships, often being taken up by women in later life so that they can more easily get back into work if they have taken time out.