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Equality must be at the heart of Scotland’s budget

In advance of the release of the Draft Scottish Budget, the Scottish Women’s Budget Group is calling for care to be included in the Scottish Government’s planned investment in infrastructure.

Investment in the social infrastructure of care is a vital aspect of women’s equality, and will help ensure that everyone can participate fully in the social, cultural and economic life of Scotland. Measures would include protecting spend committed so far on childcare, investing in the care workforce to provide decent wages and dignity at work for care workers, and to ensure dignity for women and men receiving care in a range of settings.

The £800 million due to be received by the Scottish Government from the UK Government for infrastructure investment offers an opportunity to boost the quality and character of jobs in Scotland. While women’s employment figures have increased since the last recession, this work be low paid, part-time, and precarious, and doesn’t reflect or respect the potential of Scotland’s workforce.

Angela O’Hagan, Convener of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, emphasised that investment in care and the opportunities presented by tax raising powers are of paramount importance, saying:

“The care economy in Scotland represents thousands of jobs, mainly held by women on low wages and increasingly poor working conditions. This budget and the spending priorities of the Scottish Government must value that work and the women who do it.

“Taking on new tax powers means engaging in a conversation with people in Scotland about our willingness to pay taxes for the world class services we want to enjoy and to meet the needs of people in Scotland. This week, new figures from the Fraser of Allander Institute revealed that Local Authorities are facing up to £700 million reductions in budgets, on top of the council tax freeze. We know that council tax freezes have damaged councils, services, and communities in Scotland with women, as always, bearing the brunt. Changes to Council Tax and in Income Tax policy in the future must signal a new approach to tax and investment for Scotland.

The Scottish Women’s Budget Group has consistently opposed an austerity agenda, highlighting that 86% of the net ‘savings’ raised through UK Government cuts to social security and tax credits will come from women’s incomes. It is now clear that black and minority women along are worst affected by cuts, while families with both a disabled adult and child stand to lose £13,000 per annum.



- The Scottish Women’s Budget Group campaigns for gender budget analysis in the Scottish, and local authority, budgets. It is made up of women from across Scotland who have an interest in women’s equality and want to achieve gender equality.

- More information and figures on investment in childcare can be found here:

Employment figures:

- 42.4 per cent of women in work in 2016 were employed on part-time contracts compared to 12.9 per cent of men (ONS, 2016).

- self-employed in Scotland increased by 21 per cent between 2006 and 2016 compared to an increase of just 2.7 per cent for employees. The largest increase in self-employment has been amongst women who experienced a 48.6 per cent rise compared to 10.2 per cent for men between 2006 and 2016 (ONS, 2016). As a result, women’s share of self-employed in Scotland increased from 28 per cent of the total in 2006 to 35 per cent in 2016 (ONS, 2016).

- In Scotland the underemployment rate rose from 6.9 per cent in 2008 to 10.6 per cent in 2013 and currently stands at 9.4 per cent (Scottish Government, Labour market monthly briefing: Summary Tables August 2016). In 2014, 56 per cent of the underemployed were women and it was particularly prevalent amongst those on part-time contracts affecting 18 per cent of women employed part-time (ONS, Local Area Labour Markets in Scotland: Statistics from the Annual Population Survey 2014 Web-tables, 2015).

- Associated with the growth in underemployment has been the increased incidence of ZHC. According to the ONS in 2016, 903,000 people in the UK were employed on ZHC; 2.9 per cent of those in employment compared to 147,000 in 2006, 0.5 per cent of those in employment. People on ZHC are more likely to be women, young, part-time or in full-time education. 55 per cent of those on ZHC in 2016 were women accounting for 3.4 per cent of

- Women in employment whereas 2.4 per cent of men in employment were on such contracts. In Scotland 78,000 people or 3 per cent of those in employment were on ZHC in 2016 (ONS, Labour Force Survey: zero-hours contracts data tables, 2016).

- Data from Campbell and O’Hagan, 2016 ‘Women and Scotland's changing labour market’ Employment Law Bulletin 2016, 135, 5-7

Impacts of austerity

- More information can be found here:

- More information on the figures around BME women and families with disabled members can be found here:

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