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New inquiry: Impact of the rising cost of living on women

27 September 2023

The Women and Equalities Committee has today launched a new inquiry examining the impact of the rising cost of living on women, as households continue to come under pressure from increased costs.

In February 2023, the Committee heard from people with disabilities and unpaid carers on how they were managing with cost-of-living increases. That evidence will inform this inquiry.  

It will consider how the rise in the cost of living could exacerbate existing inequalities and what steps the Government and other stakeholders, including different sectors of the economy, could take in response.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP said: 

The rising cost of living disproportionately affects women, with existing inequalities worsened by the covid-19 pandemic.

Women are more likely to be in low-paid work than men, have fewer savings to fall back on and are more likely to be in debt. Women usually take on the majority of unpaid labour, including caring responsibilities, which may affect their ability to work more hours in order to absorb increased costs.

Women often notice variations in prices and the stresses of inflation while managing household budgets. When money is tight, women act as the “shock absorbers” of poverty, going without food, clothes, or heating to protect other family members. Problems are particularly acute for women from ethnic groups with higher rates of poverty, disabled women, survivors of domestic and financial abuse, and women with ‘no recourse to public funds.’

Through this inquiry, the Committee wishes to examine the impact of the rising cost of living on women’s lives and how effectively the Government’s response is helping women to meet the costs of everyday essentials. We will be looking at the short and long-term effects on women from different types of households, whether they are low income, middle income, single parents or larger families.

We are also interested in hearing about what businesses are doing to alleviate financial pressure on their customers and employees."

Terms of reference 

The Women and Equalities Committee invites written submissions by Tuesday 7 November 2023 addressing any or all of the following questions:

1. How are rising food, energy, housing and other costs affecting women compared to men? What are the challenges for women: 

  • in different types of households (For example, households with children; single parents; renters; houseowners; women with other protected characteristics) and
  • whether there is any regional disparity in the effects of those costs?

2. What long-term effects will the rise in the cost-of-living have on equalities for women?

3. How effectively is the Government’s cost of living response helping women to meet the costs of essentials?

4. What could the Government Equalities Office do to ensure the Government’s cost-of-living measures respond to any inequalities women face?

5. What could businesses do to help women cope with increases in the cost of living and to manage debt? For example, we are interested in hearing about:

  • The banking and finance sector, including on what measures it could take to identify and support victim-survivors of domestic or financial abuse
  • Energy and utilities companies
  • Telecoms providers
  • Supermarkets
  • Other sectors with practical solutions to helping customers and employees most in need (international comparisons are also welcome)

The Committee welcomes evidence from individuals on their own experiences of meeting rising costs. Those responding should note that the Committee cannot take forward individual cases.

Written evidence

Send a written submission to the inquiry on Impact of the rising cost of living on women.

Further information

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