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WBG responds to Johnson’s environmental plan

Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director the UK Women’s Budget Group, responds to Prime Ministers Environmental Plan.

Mary-Ann Stephenson

Responding to the Prime Ministers Environmental Plan announced today, Mary-Ann Stephenson, the Director the UK Women’s Budget Group said:

“We are glad to see the Prime Minister taking the first steps to respond to the climate emergency. The raft of policies and investments announced today will begin to create urgently needed jobs for an economy in crisis.

However, it is frustrating to see the repeated focus on hard hats and homes, cars and construction. Of course, this physical infrastructure is urgently needed to decarbonise our economy and more social housing should be an immediate priority. But in 2020, when social infrastructure like health, education, social care and childcare have proven so desperately in need of funding and reform, it’s disappointing to see these neglected once again.

Ultimately, this plan will create a lot of jobs for men but far fewer for women, who are facing the worst economic impacts of the coronavirus economic crisis and make up just 12.5% of construction workers and engineers.

Women are the majority of care workers with women of colour and migrant women overrepresented. They are also the majority of those in need of care. Both the childcare sector and the social care sector have suffered the worst financial and fatal effects of the pandemic. At the same time, market failures in these sectors has caused women’s unpaid workloads to increase, turning back the clock on gender equality.

Women’s Budget Group research finds that if the Government were serious about creating jobs, promoting wellbeing and responding to the climate emergency they would invest in care: investing in care is three times less polluting per job created overall than the equivalent investment in the construction industry.

It’s also more effective at creating jobs and boosting the economy:

  • Investing in care would creates 2.7 times as many jobs as the same investment in construction: 6.3 as many for women and 10% more for men.
  • Increasing the numbers working in care to 10% of the employed population, as in Sweden and Denmark, and giving all care workers a pay rise to the real living wage would create 2 million jobs, increasing overall employment rates by 5% points and decreasing the gender employment gap by 4% points.
  • 50% more can be recouped by the Treasury in direct and indirect tax revenue from investment in care than in construction.

You can read more about social infrastructure in our A care-led recovery from coronavirus  and Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy report: ‘Creating a caring economy: a call to action.’”

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