Boris Johnson confirmed a 1.25 percentage point increase to National lnsurance from April 2022. But from April 2023, NI will return to its current rate, and extra tax will be collected as what is being called a Health and Social Care Levy. One expert, however, has explored the idea of transplanting such a proposal to help even the playing field between men and women in just one factor of life. Express.co.uk spoke to Annabelle Williams, the author of ‘Why Women are Poorer than Men’, who offered further insight into some of the challenges faced by women, and what can be done to redress the balance.
“Childcare is essential for the economy, and it is fundamentally essential for people who are going out to work. However, it isn’t classed as essential infrastructure. Instead, it is viewed as a cost the individual must bear themselves.
“Now, that is clearly a decision which has been made by a male dominated Government, which thinks that childcare is only the responsibility of women who ‘choose’ to get pregnant. Although, arguably, having a baby is a human right rather than a choice.
“The childcare issue and the amount that childcare costs ultimately serves as a huge impediment to women bettering themselves financially.
“This is in terms of getting ahead themselves, being able to save money to narrow the gender pension gap, but also being able to save money for their children and their children’s future. Women are disadvantaged, unable to better their own lives as a result.”
As a result, then, Ms Williams has called for change in this sense, in order to achieve “comprehensive childcare which is affordable for all”.
She added: “Boris Johnson has done a really bold thing with the recent announcement of his social care levy. It would be good to see something similar done in childcare – a childcare levy to help.”
This is not the only area, however, where Ms Williams believes there is more to be done. Financially, women can be behind in a number of areas through no fault of their own, she said, but it is important for matters to change.
Ms Williams said: “Investing is another area where women need more encouragement. It’s like the weights section of a gym. You know it is for everyone, but women feel more reluctant to try.
“Women have more money in cash ISAs than men, which shows we are diligent savers, but there is a masculinity surrounding investment which needs to be tackled. Women are more focussed on having cash in the bank because they are more acutely aware of their short-term outgoings, and are relied upon as the managers of the budgets in their own households.”
Ms Williams concluded by stressing the everyday actions women can take in this regard. While inequities may seem insurmountable, there are certain efforts which can be undertaken to help women to progress financially.
She said: “In terms of the things women can do, they should be looking at money as a type of self-care. Just as you try to get enough sleep and exercise, you need to think about it in the same way. Think about sunscreen. You put it on, and while you may not see the result immediately, you just trust that over time in 30 years’ time your skin and your health will be better for it. These are things that we build into our routine and we make time for.
“We need to start looking at money as something similar. You don’t even need to do anything, you just need to get into the money mindset. Even setting aside 15 minutes to scroll through your bank account, log in to your energy account or your pension and just have a look.
“While that isn’t doing anything in particular, you’re not making any major decisions or changes, but you are getting into that mindset. It is something that women can really do to better themselves in terms of their finances.”
A Department for Education spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Early years providers are a vital part of our economy and education system, providing millions of pre-school children with the best start in life and helping parents juggle work and family life. We recognise the challenges they have faced during the pandemic, which is why we provided significant financial and business support throughout to protect them.
“On top of this we have invested more than £3.5 billion in childcare in each of the last three years, we’ve expanded our holiday activities and food programme nationally to support families during the school holidays, and we’re making millions more available through our recovery fund to level up children’s early outcomes, raising the quality of early education even further.”