The Women’s Budget Group report on ‘Universal Credit and financial abuse: Exploring the links’ shows how Universal Credit risks giving more power to abusers in homes where women are victims of domestic violence.

The lack of automatic split payments under Universal Credit does not pay particular attention to the at risk status that many women are in and ignores the wealth of evidence that shows in cases of financial abuse when the income is ‘pooled’ then women and children often go without basic needs such as food and clothing.

Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women the U.K Government should be taking all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women.

Yet despite these obligations there have been a number of aspects of recent tax and welfare reforms that have been found to be discriminatory by design for women, regressive in nature, and in breach of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Some of our key recommendations to the U.K Government to ensure that welfare payments are in line with the U.K’s international Human Rights obligations are:

  • Automatic split payments of Universal Credit so as to help tackle financial abuse.
  • The DWP should review the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 to restore the link between social security entitlements and the costs of living.
  • HM Treasury should extend the analysis of the distributional impact of tax and public spending to look at the aggregate impact in light of the protected characteristics as well as income and wealth disparities.

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