FPSW supports calls for a caring economy: one in which the social care and childcare sectors are valued and recognised both as vital infrastructure and significant employers; one where the valuable unpaid care given largely by women is recognised and rewarded; one which protects and enhances the environment and recognises that care giving provides jobs which are inherently low impact environmentally. We campaign within the South West to have this vital social infrastructure supported through all available sources of funding, both public and private), particularly with local and regional authorities.
The low pay economy of the South West, the expectation that women will be the prime carers (in a sector which is chronically underfunded), the inaccessibility of affordable, quality childcare, the lack of opportunities for flexible working in quality jobs, continued prejudice and occupational segregation, and inadequate public transport systems, all conspire to give a persistent pay gap between women and men which varies across our region from close to the national average in Cornwall to upwards of 30% in the richer parts of the region. This translates into a massive income gap in retirement, being exacerbated by changes in the tax and benefit system which will cause regression to the 'dependent woman', 'male earner model' and reduced pension contributions for women (private and state).
Those same tax and benefit changes are reducing the incomes of many women, particularly lone parents and BME women. There is now much evidence of the unequal impact on women of the Austerity measures introduced in 2010, including from the UN Rapporteur on UK povery, which is being denied by those in power.
FPSW continues to analyse the causes of the pay gap and campaign for local and national policies which would help reduce it.