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Issue:- 15 March  2012

The Tax Credit Changes Will hit Women hard!

UNISON, the UK’s largest union - with more than 1 million women members is warning that plans to cut tax credits from part time workers will hit women especially hard. Nearly three times as many women as men work part time in the UK.

From next month, couples with children earning less than £17,700 a year will have to increase their working hours from a minimum of 16 to 24 hours per week or they will lose their working tax credits. This is worth £3,870 per year, or more than £70 a week, to families. The government’s own figures show that 212,000 households could be hit - including 470,000 children.

UNISON is warning that unemployment and job cuts will make it impossible for most part time working women to get extra hours; meaning that thousands will lose this benefit. Some women may also be forced to leave work if the cuts mean they can no longer afford childcare; the cost of which is spiralling out of control.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:- "Things are looking worse for UK women than they have for a generation. The Tory-led coalition is busy undoing years of hard won progress.  Not only are women bearing the brunt of the recession, they are unemployed in record numbers, and are hardest hit by Tory cuts to public services and jobs. With women almost three times as likely to work part time than men, cuts to working tax credits will have a disproportionate impact. The government is right to be very worried about losing the support of women voters. These drastic cuts to working tax credits are set to hit women hard but they will raise less for The Treasury than the value of bonuses paid to RBS bankers this year. Clearly, we are not all in this together. Women did not cause this financial crisis, but they are paying a heavy price for it. The government has to take urgent action to protect women."

In its 2011 budget The Treasury estimated this change to working tax credits will raise £515 million in 2012/13. This is almost £200 million less than the total value of bonuses paid to RBS bankers this year, £785 million. 

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Digital champions rewarded

PEOPLE who have helped bridge the digital divide in Liverpool have been honoured at a special awards ceremony held on Tuesday, 13 March 2012.  It followed a campaign called:- ‘Go On it’s Liverpool’ which has seen over 1,000 digital champions recruited to encourage people to go online for the first time. The latest official ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures show 20,000 people went online for the first time in the last 6 months of 2011. It means there was almost a 6% reduction in the number of people classed as 'digitally excluded' in Liverpool compared to just 1.1% nationally.  The Government's Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, presented 20 of the individuals and organisations who have done the most to tackle the issue with a special award.  The ceremony; part of the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Congress; took place at the Museum of Liverpool at the Pier Head.  Councillor Nick Small, Liverpool's Cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, said:- "Go On it’s Liverpool has been hugely successful in getting people online and I am delighted with its success.  Being computer and internet literate gives people a huge advantage when competing for jobs and is vitally important.  Using the web is crucial to so many things in modern life and is only going to become more important in the future.  This is a great scheme which harnesses the enthusiasm of those who are already web savvy and encourage them to give an hour of their time to help get others online."

The awards were in categories including working with the community, working within business, helping older people and businesses who have supported people to get online.  During the campaign, scores of events were held in libraries, community centres and other venues across the city to raise awareness and show the benefits of using the internet.  Employers were also encouraged to get computer literate staff to take part and the initiative was backed by Unionlearn, the TUC scheme which encourages members to improve their skills.  Martha Lane Fox said:- "This project would not have been possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of the many people who gave their time to share their knowledge of using the internet with others.  I am delighted to be able to thank them for their commitment in making such a difference to the lives of other people."

Ms Lane Fox is best known for co-founding in 1998. Today she is a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer and Channel 4.

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