Gender Matters in Social Security - why we need individual payments of universal credit
Scottish Women’s Aid in partnership with Engender, Carers Scotland, Close the Gap and the Scottish Refugee Council have developed a briefing calling on the Scottish Government to use its new powers over social security to promote women’s equality by automatically paying Universal Credit entitlements to individuals rather than to one member of a household.
Research suggests that 89% of all women who are abused by a partner, experience financial abuse. The single household payment puts women at greater risk, reinforces women’s inequality and undermines equal access to an independent income and financial autonomy.
The paper has been endorsed by a range of charities, equalities organisations, anti-poverty groups and the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
Since 2010 £26 billion worth of cuts have been made to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions. 85% of this has been taken from women’s incomes. The explanation for the disproportionate impact on women lies in women’s pre-existing inequality. We have been working with a range of other organisations working towards women’s equality to highlight the gendered impact of these cuts. Read our joint report “ A Widening Gap: Women and Welfare Reform.”
Women experiencing domestic abuse face considerable barriers when trying to leave an abusive partner, many women experience financial abuse and are denied access to independent income, are prevented from working and are encumbered with debt. Access to financial support, provided by the social security system is therefore crucial in supporting women to be able to leave an abuser. The cumulative impact of reforms to the social security system have further reduced women’s financial autonomy, resulting in increasing poverty and insecurity for women and their children and creating increased risk of women and their children remaining with or returning to the abuser. Read our submission to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee inquiry on Women and Welfare Reform.
Recounting Women Project
This project was developed from work with our members to map the impact of cuts to social security on the women and children they support and the services they provide. The Recounting Women Project is a partnership between, Glasgow East Women’s Aid, Perth Women’s Aid and Scottish Women’s Aid and is supported by funding from the Digital Challenge Fund.
The project is designed to support women to develop their digital skills to be able to use creative approaches, such as photovoice, to gather and disseminate evidence about the impact of cuts to social security on their lives. This project is innovative as it directly involves women who currently do not have a platform for communicating their experiences of the impact of public policy decisions, such as the cuts to social security, on their lives. Photovoice provides a unique and creative way of doing that, it can also be used anonymously to enable women who have experienced domestic abuse to participate safely.
View the images on the Recounting Women website.
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Non-consensual sharing of intimate media (NCSIM) is a form of abuse
Facts & Figures
On one day in Scotland in 2014, 859 women and 400 children and young people were supported by a Women's Aid group (SWA 2014)