Latest job figures raise serious doubts about the Government’s economic plans
Over time, George Osborne hopes that the private sector will create enough jobs to offset the drop in public sector employment and bring down unemployment overall. But even if they can eventually achieve this, the switch from the public to the private sector means there will be fewer of the flexible or part-time jobs that appeal to the mothers of young children.
The Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest forecasts suggest unemployment will get worse next year as more jobs are lost in the public sector.
It is likely that women will continue to be hit hard by this in 2012.
The job figures show there are more than a million women unemployed in the UK – up 45,000 in the last three months and 63,000 over the last year. This is the highest level of unemployment among women for 23 years and over 300,000 of these women have been out of work for more than a year.
Women are particularly vulnerable to cuts in the public sector, where the number in employment has fallen by 276,000 over the last year, because it is the only broad sector of the economy that employs more women than men.
The public sector offers many more opportunities to work part-time jobs and with flexible hours. These types of jobs are particularly appealing to mothers of young children.
One factor that would make it easier for them to work in the private sector would be better childcare. IPPR has crunched the numbers and worked out that providing childcare more than pays for itself because women who return to work more quickly after maternity leave pay more taxes and take less in benefits.
Other countries, like Denmark, Sweden and Norway have high-quality, affordable childcare services and parental leave entitlements that enable mothers and fathers to combine work with bringing up their family. It’s time to take a radical rethink about how we do things in Britain.