The cost-of-living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on women, according to the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the council’s Head of Policy Jennifer McCarthy Flynn said inflation has the heaviest impact on those who have the least.

She said women are over-represented in all categories likely to be hit hardest by inflation – including lone-parent households, and those with greater reliance on part-time, low-paid and precarious work.

“I think we know that the cost-of-living crisis is impacting all of us but the evidence from the CSO is also really clear,” she said. “It is impacting deepest on those who already have least.”

“In general, women do have fewer resources, less wealth and lower incomes and, because of their greater unpaid care responsibilities, they have less choices around paid work and greater reliance on part-time, low-paid and precarious work.”

Cost-of-living

She said the people most impacted by inflation are those who never recovered from the austerity-era cuts.

“Those would be lone parents who are less likely to own a home and less likely to be able to access credit,” she said.

“They have less resources to turn to as the cost-of-living increases but wages and other income supports do not.”

Poverty

She said 94% of all lone-parent households in Ireland are headed by women.

“That is really the link we’re making,” she said.

“Those who have less resources available to them to deal with these cost-of-living increases are the ones being most impacted and women are overrepresented in all of those groups; those who are already most at risk.”

Social welfare

She said plans to link pensions and social welfare payments to the average industrial wage are “really welcome” but don’t go far enough.

“Benchmarking to salaries which themselves have not been raising in line with inflation will not be enough to keep those who have least ahead of the impact of inflation,” she said.

“What we are looking for in this budget is a core minimum increase of €20 to keep up with inflation and ensure progress towards an adequate income.

“The benchmarking has to be to a minimum essential standard of living which is a calculation of what households and families need in order to have a set standard of living.

“So, benchmarking to that, which is the cost of rent, or energy and food is a much better way of keeping ahead of inflation than just benchmarking to salaries, although those increase would be very welcome.

“They are probably not going to be enough to keep us ahead of the cost of inflation. Salaries are just not increasing in line with inflation.”

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