Our short paper sets our five principles for prospective councillors to deliver against to help build a gender equal economy.
Councils elected in 2022 have a triple set of challenges to contend with. The cost of living crisis which is rapidly impacting people’s lives, Covid-19 pandemic recovery which impacted many council-run services and the need for practical action on climate change.
To deal with the multiple challenges we’ve set out five principles which aim to guide responses that will build in equality:
- Hardwire gender analysis into decision making
- Recognise the gendered nature of poverty
- Build local communities that put care and wellbeing at the centre
- Embrace participation and hear from a diverse range of women
- Understand the role of revenue raising in tackling inequality
With energy prices soaring, managing to get by as the cost of living outstrips wages and social security is a key concern. SWBG conducted a survey between February and March 2022 in which 425 women participated.
The survey demonstrated that the rising cost of living was already having an impact and women are having to make difficult decisions on heating, eating, transport and more. 32% of those who responded said they were unable to manage energy costs before the latest increase on 1 April, and concern about future rises in energy bills was already impacting on people’s household spending.
"My husband is disabled, and has been shielding. Our heating costs are higher because he is largely confined to the house, and we will have to cut back on other day to day spend to manage this."
"I have no savings left, no chance to find a better paid job due to my caring role. As people go back to the office, this further reduces the jobs open to me due to the continued high prevalence of Covid which restricts our lives."
"Energy costs and transport are our highest expenditure after mortgage payments, and these two items take up 80% of my take-home pay. We have very little left to cover food and we are unable to spend on 'fun' activities, holidays etc as a consequence. I am very aware that this is limiting my children's childhood experiences."
Councillors elected in May will have a challenging job to support local communities through these difficult times. Working to build equality into the system in the face of these challenges is a first step building fair communities that work for everyone.
Sara Cowan is Coordinator for Scottish Women's Budget Group