No safety net for UK's worst paid women, says Fawcett Society

By agency reporter
March 10, 2018

Millions of working women face financial insecurity, according to new research conducted by the Living Wage Foundation and the Fawcett Society.

A poll of women earning below the real Living Wage, conducted by Survation between 28 February and 1 March 2018, found that of working women paid less than the real Living Wage of £10.20 an hour in London, and £8.75 outside of London (a quarter of all working women):

  • A third (33 per cent or 1.12 million women) have no savings at all, including pensions
  • Nearly half (43 per cent) have less than £100 saved, too little to cover a financial emergency

If they were to lose their job:

  •     61 per cent have savings for a month or less
  •     33 per cent have savings for less than a week

If their bills were to increase:

  •     49 per cent would cut down on food
  •     41 per cent would cut down on heating

The survey also found that 39 per cent have more than £500 of debt, while 31 per cent have more than £1,000 of debt. Over a quarter (25.1 per cent) are spending more than £100 servicing debt each month.

Almost all the women (94 per cent) worry about their financial situation, and 66 per cent do not see their financial situation improving within a year.

Women are disproportionately represented in low pay jobs. Separate research conducted by KPMG found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of women in work earn less than the real Living Wage, compared to 16 per cent of all males. This equates to 3.4 million women.

Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said, "The precariousness of life for women earning little more than the government minimum shows the need for more employers to take a stand by paying the real Living Wage based on what people need to make ends meet. Our research shows that debt and financial insecurity is widespread for low paid women, with many struggling to save for a rainy day."

Jemima Olchawski, Head of Policy and Insight at the Fawcett Society, said, “Women are much more likely to be in low paid work. Often that might be because they need flexibility or part time work to meet caring responsibilities that they just can’t find in better paid roles. It’s also because society undervalues women and the work they do; jobs dominated by women such as caring roles are consistently amongst the lowest paid.

“Employers can help lift their staff out of poverty and close the gender pay gap by paying the real living wage. To maximise the talent available to them recruiters should make all jobs flexible by default, so a wider range of people can progress at work. We’d urge larger employers to take the opportunity of pay gap reporting to look closely at the nature and causes of the gap in their organisation and make an action plan to close it.”

* Fawcett Society


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