Women’s Low Pay: Families in Poverty

Women in Scotland earn £182.90 per week less than men and yet make up 49% of the work force.  According to Close the Gap, 64% of workers paid below the living wage are women.

Zero Hours Contracts Linked to Low Pay

This is due to a combination of factors, a major one of which is the continued misuse of zero hours contracts and this is linked directly to the type of employment women are engaged in. These are jobs which often reflect a woman’s dual responsibilities as the main carer in a family be it for children or elderly relatives. Balancing care and work has also led to women being under employed leading to increasing numbers seeking advice about in work poverty.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Government in 2015,Prof Chris Warhurst, Institute for Employment Research (IER) at Warwick University, said:

“In Scotland already poor quality cleaning jobs in hotels can get worse when workers are shifted into temporary work agency employment or retail workers put onto zero hours contracts.”

And Citizens Advice Scotland who have witnessed at first hand a rise in clients seeking help who are on zero hours contracts stated:


Foodbank use continues to rise

“ In-work poverty is a significant concern for CAS, and the most recent figures from the Scottish Government show that almost half of working age adults in poverty (48%)  are from working households. It is no longer the case that securing paid employment by itself is a route out of poverty.”

People are struggling to pay for essentials with families having  little to no disposable income.

Child Poverty in Scotland

Child Poverty figures on the rise are a direct consequence of in work poverty and changes to the benefit system by the UK Government  has resulted in many families struggling.  Scottish Government  Equalities Secretary Angela Constance MSP said:

“No child should grow up in poverty. All of our children deserve the best opportunities in life that we can offer them, which is why tackling the issue is a key priority for this government.”

“Our Child Poverty Bill will be a crucial step forward – it will set statutory targets to reduce child poverty and establish a framework for measuring, monitoring and reporting on child poverty. It will also require long-term delivery plans to tackle the deep-rooted causes, and for Ministers to report annually on progress. Scotland will also now be the only part of the UK with statutory income targets on child poverty.

“UK Government budget cuts, austerity measures, and welfare cuts, and scrapping of income-based child poverty targets are leading to huge social harm, and the poorest and most vulnerable in society shouldering the brunt.”

“We are spending £100 million a year mitigating the worst of UK Government cuts, funding we should be able to use to lift people out of poverty.

Close the Gap state :

“the gender pay gap in Scotland is 11.5%.  The gender differences in the Scottish labour market, with a pay gap of 12% for full-time workers and 32% for part-time workers is shocking in the 21st Century.”

“The reasons given for these differences in pay include: ―occupational segregation, where women and men do different types and levels of work; inflexible working practices which make it difficult for women with caring responsibilities to participate in the labour market equally, particularly at senior levels; and discrimination within pay systems.”

Unless the misuse of zero hours contracts and  pay inequality  is seriously dealt with, in work poverty  will continue to blight increasing numbers of Scottish families.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

Actions to tackle poverty are within the Fairer Scotland Action Plan

A zero hours contract may be referred to as, a contract with no guaranteed hours, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), where a person is not contracted to work a set number of hours, and is only paid for the number of hours that they actually work.

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