Women hit hardest by welfare reform


Women are being hit hard on multiple fronts by controversial changes to the benefits system, according to a report published by Holyrood’s Welfare Reform Committee.

The Committee found women are disproportionately impacted by welfare reform across a range of issues and benefits. Its report includes recommendations to the Scottish Government and Department of Work and Pensions, aimed at mitigating the impact of welfare reform on women, including:

  • An integrated approach to job seeking support across health, housing and social care, to better meet the needs of women.
  • To tackle the greater dependence of women on the benefits system due to low pay and insecure employment, the Committee calls for better measures to close the gender pay gap and end occupational segregation.

Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP, said:

“The evidence we have set out confirms the devastating impact on women of the UK Government’s reforms to the social security system. Of particular concern is the cumulative impact on women hit by multiple benefits cuts, from child support to carer’s allowance. The UK Government urgently needs to look at how women are being affected by these changes and we are also calling on the Scottish Government to look at the gender impact of their own policy decisions.” 

Deputy Convener Clare Adamson MSP, said: 

“Our report shows inequalities faced by women in Scotland have been exacerbated by the welfare reform agenda. With the Scotland Bill still making its way through Westminster and the Chancellor set to announce even deeper cuts to welfare spending, the Committee is urging the Scottish Government to make use of expected new powers over welfare to help mitigate more of the negative impact of welfare reform on women.

“The Committee would, for instance, support a move away from monthly and single household payments under Universal Credit, as a way of protecting women’s financial autonomy.”


The Committee has previously published evidence showing the impact of welfare reform nationally and on communities and particular groups, such as children and families, and households.

Scottish Conservative MSP, Annabel Goldie dissented on a number of the report’s recommendations.

Read the report here

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