Monday, 16 December 2013
Commenting on reports indicating the gender pay gap has widened this year, local MP and SNP Work & Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has said that the Scottish Government needs independence to take steps to ensure women are paid fairly.
An Office for National Statistics report found the gender pay gap had widened this year from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent for full-time workers. The gap is much wider for part-time workers, which rose from 19.6 to 19.7 per cent.
Two thirds of people earning the minimum wage or less are women, and women are much more likely to work part-time. The Scottish Government has pledged that with independence, it will establish a Fair Work Commission which will establish a minimum wage in line with inflation, in addition to free childcare which will enable more women to work.
Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“The minimum wage has failed to rise in real terms for the 70,000 people in Scotland who receive it for almost a decade. Had the policy pledged been in place for the last five years it would have seen the lowest paid people in Scotland benefit to the tune of £675- the majority of them being women.
“Women also struggle to return to work after having children due to the cost of childcare. The Scottish Government’s plan to provide thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds, will help women who want to work go back to work. This will help close the gender pay gap and increase tax revenues- which in turn will be used by the Scottish Government to pay for the childcare. This policy isn't affordable if we remain part of the union.
“Without the benefits of independence, there is little the Scottish Government can do to mitigate the problem and more women continue to be underpaid. Women also struggle more to balance family budgets and keep up with the rising cost of living as they have been hardest hit by the UK government’s cuts to public sector workers pay and benefits. Women have the most to gain from independence.”