Skip to content

UK Policy Briefing

Who bears the brunt? Intersectional analysis of social security cuts since 2010

An intersectional analysis of the impact of cuts to social security since 2010 projected to 2027/8 based on pre-election Government spending plans.

Ignacia Pinto and Dr Zubaida Haque


A series of cuts and changes to benefits since 2010 have had a devastating impact on women on low incomes, women from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, lone mothers, disabled women and households with three or more children.

Women spend more time on unpaid domestic and care work 1 , which means they tend to have less income from paid work, hence leading them to rely on social security more than men do. Women also receive benefits for others that they care for, especially children and disabled family members.

Our analysis of the impact of social security cuts since 2010 shows that:

  • Women in the lowest income decile (the poorest) lose on average £3,348 per year.
  • Black women (Black African, Black Caribbean and Black British women),
    across all income groups, lose on average £2,498 per year, compared to
    white men, across all income deciles, who lose on average £990 per year.
  • Lone parents lose £6,992 per year, on average.
  • Disabled women also significantly lose out – by £2,553 per year on average.

Social security cuts since 2010 not only disproportionately affect women but have severe detrimental impacts on their children and those they care for. Our analysis also shows that households with children, particularly those with three or more children, are more severely impacted by benefit cuts than households without children.

Child poverty has been climbing rapidly in the last decade, reaching nearly 30% in 2022/23. Several reports indicate that measures such as the benefit cap and the two-child limit are among the main drivers of child poverty over the past decade. 2  The social security system should be designed to meet people’s needs. A future government should restore the generosity of the system, which has been eroded since 2010. This includes a real-terms adjustment of benefits and the abolition of the benefit cap and the two-child limit.


Related content