Women and BAME communities ‘have been treated with utter contempt’ by Rishi Sunak’s Budget, claims The Women’s Organisation CEO Maggie O’Carroll. Tony McDonough reports
Chancellor Rishi Sunak won plaudits following his spring Budget for continued support for small businesses and awarding Freeport status to Liverpool city region.
However, Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of award-winning Liverpool social enterprise The Women’s Organisation says the Budget failed to address the “systemic inequality” that holds back women and BAME communities.
On the day before the Budget, Ms O’Carroll called on the Chancellor to invest £1.6bn to £1.6bn in a national programme of employment and business support for more than 2m women impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She claimed research had shown that such an investment could yield an £8bn return.
Claimed to have delivered a Budget that “meets the moment” but Ms Carroll said the reality was hugely disappointing with little sign of any change as far as women and BAME communities are concerned.
“Why would you possibly want to design a Budget that pretty much ignores 52% of the population?” She said: “I would like to ask those policymakers and ministers, are they thinking about their daughters? Are they thinking about what the future will hold for the current generation and the next generation of young women coming up?”
And in an interview with the BBC, she insisted the Budget had not only fallen short of addressing systematic inequality for women and BAME groups, but also completely disregarded them from any source of hope for a sound financial and fair future.
She added: “Women, women in business and BAME communities have been treated with utter contempt by a Government which consistently preaches its connection with everyday people yet fails to recognise the value of those left at the bottom of the economic ladder.
“While the continued furlough scheme means guaranteed income until September, it is still not enough. The £20 a week Universal Credit uplift is not enough. You cannot protect people’s livelihoods if there isn’t one left to protect.
“Inaccessible and unaffordable childcare will continue to prevent thousands of women from realising their potential, instead having to resort to low paid jobs to make ends meet. To ensure the 2030 World Cup bid is prioritised but fail to address the critical state of the care sector is utterly deplorable.
“The Biden/Harris administration in the US has pledged upwards of $500bn towards childcare, the education and care workforce and the promotion of female and BAME entrepreneurs. It’s having the courage to do things differently and acknowledging that we must all be offered an equal role in its success.
“The economic recovery, future economic growth and improved productivity can’t be achieved without women.”