Women on the dole.

As the latest unemployment figures are released, Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long looks at one group of people who seem to be particularly badly affected - women.

As the latest unemployment figures are released, one group can be sure of the government's attention. Women. A growing army of them are joining the dole queues - and their disaffection with the coalition is also growing.
Anxious about negative poll ratings among women, the government has put the Home Secretary Theresa May in to bat. Also the women's minister, she's promised to tap into the "true potential" of Britain's out-of-work women. She says it's worth £21bn to the economy.

So there's a children's minister and a women's minister? Is there anyone for men? I doubt it.

There reason women may be feeling the pinch now the money tap has been turned off, is that they have been reaping most of the benefits during the last fourteen years.

Not only is discrimination in favour of women actively encouraged, labour laws have also been created that make women less employable than men.

But when we went to the north east to meet some of the women who have lost their jobs this year, they certainly were not feeling that "they're worth it."

Notice the sexist L'Oreal reference there?

"I find it really demeaning and really degrading going into the benefit office," said Michelle Pattinson.

So what did you used to do?

Michelle used to work helping the unemployed get back into work, until she lost her own job six months ago.


She is a single mother whose youngest son is five years old. The government has made much of the fact it believes women like her should be working. And Michelle agrees - indeed she could be speaking for the government when she talks about how important it is for her son to see her work, to understand the importance of a work ethic.

The government would prefer you to be working so they are not paying you benefits. Unfortunately the previous lot decided it was preferable to create jobs in the public sector for those who are out of work, ultimately costing the economy a lot more.

I applied for a job at the local supermarket and I was rejected and I think: 'Why? Why am I not getting a job like that, that I know I can do?' It's frustrating.

Well unfortunately you are not on your own. Undoing New Labours mess is going to be a long haul, not a quick fix. It's going to be painful for a lot of people.

The Government creating jobs, particularly non jobs is not the answer. It may take a while for the private sector to expand and pick up the slack. When the Conservatives were in opposition they promised to remove swathes of red tape in order to help private business. So far their achievements have been poor to non existent.

The road is going to be long and painful, and it's the ex public sector employees, particularly the women who will bear the brunt of it because there is no longer any money to prop them up.

The problem for Michelle is that the numbers are just stacked against her. She lives in Ashington, a colliery town in Northumberland, which has struggled to fight back after the mines closed almost three decades ago.
But where once the town depended on coal, it grew to rely on the public sector. It accounts for a massive fifty per cent of the jobs here, the majority of them taken by women.

The public sector can no longer afford to employ fifty percent of the local population, if it ever could. Aside from that it's simply not necessary, it's a waste of money.

We need to rapidly shrink the public sector in order to get the public debt under control, but at the same time we rapidly need to shrink the government in order to allow the private sector room to expand and take up the slack.

Sorry women but you've reaped all the advantages of socialist positive discrimination over the last fourteen years, but there is no money left.

Times are going to be harder.


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