We are hardly over the covid pandemic and now we’re facing a cost of living crisis. As a result of the pandemic measures; shutting down the economy causing a trade supply bottleneck, Brexit and the continuing war in Ukraine the price of everything has increased. This is set against a financial backdrop of stagnant and reduced wages from a decade of austerity policies and the government's introduction of its new, less generous welfare benefit Universal Credit.
Whether in or out of work, women are more likely to rely on benefits than men. Women’s increasing debt burden reduces options for them to escape abuse from partners, family members, care-givers and/or employers. Poverty also increases women’s risk of commercial sexual exploitation and to the inherent physical and mental health problems.
Many of the wealthiest in society saved cash during the pandemic but the poorest fell further into debt. This crisis will therefore disproportionately affect the poorest in society who need to use a greater share of their income to pay for the basics in life; food, heating and rent. Women are more likely to be poorer and have less savings to fall back on than men and to reduce their own food, heat and clothing to provide for other family members. Women living with a disability, or from a BAME community, who are lone parents, survivors of abuse, who sell or exchange sex and those affected by immigration control are the most at risk and vulnerable to increased financial inequality, abject poverty and increased violence and abuse.
Winter is still here and the government’s help towards our electricity bills is coming to an end. Therefore it is more important than ever to check your benefit entitlement and get help and advice if you're struggling to make ends meet. If you have a support worker speak to them first as they will be able to advocate on your behalf to get you the help and advice you need. If you're comfortable using a computer and have access to the internet you can do your own benefit check either here at Turn2Us: https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/ or for a more detailed calculation at Entitled To: https://www.entitledto.co.uk/.
Additionally, Citizens Advice Scotland offer a free helpline where you can get help with your benefits and check your entitlement called ‘Help to Claim’ Universal Credit 0800 023 2581 Mon to Fri 8am-6pm
The local council can help if you need urgent help with food, heating and electricity. This could be anything from loans or grants to food vouchers or fuel vouchers. You can find out what help is available from your local authority here: www.mygov.scot/urgent-help-food-fuel-money
If you're having problems paying an outstanding debt or debts then speak to the credit company in the first instance to let them know you’re having problems keeping up with payments and see if they can help by reducing your payments. Help is also available free of charge from several government approved money advice organisations:
Advice Direct Scotland – online and live chat advice for people in Scotland
Christians Against Poverty – online and in person advice
Citizens Advice Scotland – in person advice at your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or on the phone through the Money Talk Team (0800 085 7145)
National Debt Line – online and telephone advice about debt (0808 808 4000)
StepChange Debt Charity – online and telephone advice about debt (0800 138 1111)
Money Advice Scotland – online chat and tools to help with debt
‘The Cost of Living Crisis: The Impact on Women Selling or Exchanging Sex or Images’ - Encompass Network Briefing Feb 2023
Glasgow Women’s Aid glasgowwomensaid.org.uk/ Tel: 0800 027 1234
Glasgow East Women’s Aid www.glashttps://www.gewa.org.uk/ Tel: 0141 781 02 30
Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis gowclyderapecrisis.org.uk/ Tel: 08088 00 00 14
Hemat Gryffe hematgryffe.org.uk/ Tel: 0141 353 0859
SAY Women www.say-women.co.uk/ Tel: 0141 552 5803
The Daisy Project thedaisyproject.org.uk/ Tel: 0141 634 4053
Women’s Support Project womenssupportproject.org.uk/ Tel: 0141 418 0748
Blog written by Kara Evans Development Worker Wise Women