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06th December 2010

High Court hears cuts inequality case

Women are facing a "grossly disproportionate and devastating" impact from the Government's emergency Budget, it was argued at the High Court on Monday. Women are bearing the brunt of the cuts triggered in jobs, benefits and services after a "complete failure" to take account of gender equality laws, a QC said.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, is asking Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, for permission to seek a High Court declaration that the June budget is unlawful and must be reconsidered. The society argues women are disproportionately affected because more women than men rely on the welfare benefits that are being cut, and the changes to the tax system favour far more men than women. Karon Monaghan QC, representing the society, told the judge that, of the £8.1 billion in savings raised by the budget, £5.7 billion was being born by women:

"72% as against 28% for men. Top-line analysis demonstrates a grossly disproportionate and devastating impact so far as women are concerned."

If the judge agrees the society has an arguable case, their judicial review application will go to a full hearing in the near future. Ms Monaghan argued the Chancellor of the Exchequer had failed to comply with the Government's duty under the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act "to eliminate unlawful discrimination" and promote equality of opportunity between men and women. It failed to carry out gender equality impact assessments and act in accordance with its own gender equality scheme, said the QC.

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Needs Dev Justin Govier

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Justin Govier

justin.govier@ibblaw.co.uk
01895 207892