After a week where it emerged that Westminster’s welfare reforms were hitting lone parents, mostly women, the hardest, Harper is calling on the UK government to investigate reports that DWP staff are pressured into applying sanctions, as well as committing to equal pay for women.
Ms Harper said the UK government should make a firm commitment to addressing unequal pay by immediately commencing section 78 of the Equality Act 2010, and implementing regulations which would require businesses of more than 250 employees to measure and publish data on their gender pay gaps.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“More action needs to be taken when 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, we have seen the pay gap between men and women in the UK grow.
“This is perhaps not a surprise given it is women who bear the brunt of the welfare cuts imposed by David Mundell’s party.
“Giving the Scottish Government powers over employment policy would benefit thousands of women across Scotland and bring about real progress in tackling low pay.
“Devolution has shown that where the Scottish Government has the power, we take action. In government, the SNP has been the first administration ever to pay the living wage to all employees covered by our pay policy. Finance Secretary John Swinney also announced last year that the living wage would rise to £7.85 per hour from April.
“The SNP Scottish Government has taken great steps to help parents – especially mothers- back into work or education by extending childcare hours– with provision for three and four year olds up 45 per cent since 2007, saving families up to £707 per child. This has included extending the entitlement to thousands of our most disadvantaged two year olds.
“But some of the powers we need to go further remain with Westminster. We need the UK government to take action on the Equal Pay Act, to ensure once and for all pay inequality is a thing of the past.
Notes to editors:
Attached picture from International Women’s Day conference with SNP candidates Emma Harper, Angela Crawley, Dr. Lisa Cameron.