Low paid women excluded from ‘recovery’

LOW PAID women are firmly shut out of the Government’s boasted “recovery” according to new research published last week by the Fawcett Society.

The new report [The changing labour market: women, low pay and gender equality in the emerging recovery] includes analysis of national employment data and a survey of 1,003 low paid women.

Key findings include:

Commenting on these findings, Dr Eva Neitzert, Deputy CEO at the Fawcett Society, said: “The evidence is clear: after five years of decline, the UK economy is back on the upswing.

“Employment is up, unemployment is down and GDP is improving. However, as our research shows, low paid women are being firmly shut out of the recovery.

“The numbers of women in low paid, insecure work are still alarmingly high. Since the crisis in 2008 we have seen a nearly two-fold increase in the numbers of women working in insecure, part-time and temporary jobs where they would prefer to be in secure, full-time roles.

“In addition, 371,000 more women have moved into self-employment — a form of work which is typically very low paid and where women earn an average of 40 per cent less than men.

“We have also seen a sharp rise in the numbers of women on controversial zero hours contracts — one in eight low paid women now describe themselves as being on a zero hours contract, the majority through necessity rather than choice.

“Overall, since 2008 almost a million extra women have moved into types of work that are typically low paid and insecure.

“We are concerned that at a time when the numbers of women on low pay are increasing, the value of their pay is declining in real terms, meaning they are struggling more than ever to makes ends meet.

“One in two low paid women told us that they felt worse off than five years ago.

“Even the planned increase to the national minimum wage this October will only increase the value of the wage to 2005 levels in real terms.

“It is clear that work is not providing a sufficient route out of poverty for low paid women: almost half are being forced to rely on benefits to top up inadequate wages, one in 10 are accessing pernicious pay day loans and one in 12 low paid women with children are having to resort to food banks.

“Our research also reveals that many low paid women are working substantially below their qualification and skill levels. Over a third consider themselves over-qualified for the job they are doing and shockingly, over one in five of those working below £7.44 per hour are educated to degree level.

“This is not only bad for individual women, it’s hugely damaging to the economy at large with talent simply going to waste.”