Women's Rights Group Slams 'Sexist' U.K. Government Austerity Policies

A woman holds coins in Knutsford, United Kingdom, May 20, 2014. People with varying degrees of wealth spend differently on luxury items. Christopher Furlong/Getty

A leading women's rights organization has slammed the U.K. government for the impact of austerity policies on women's economic, working and family lives.

With the autumn financial statement analysis just days away, independent thinktank the Women's Budget Group (WBG) reported that by 2020, women will have borne the brunt of changes to Britain's tax and benefit systems, feeling cuts "twice as hard" as men. Research showed the gender pay gap continues to fuel inequality between the sexes, and women are more likely to rely on benefits to top up their income.

Eva Neitzert, the WBG's director, told The Observer: "Women, especially those on low incomes, have shouldered the largest burden of austerity measures. Overall, women stand to lose twice as much as men by 2020, and for those on the lowest incomes this means a cut of between 11 and 15 percent."

Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre, told The Guardian that the report showed "marginalised, impoverished women are suffering the most," and that a "gendered approach" to policy is the way forward. "We could say that the government is behaving in a sexist way," she said.

The WBG says that lowest income groups stand to lose the most, and called on Philip Hammond, the chancellor, to heed calls for transparency from the Women and Equalities Select Committee when he present his Autumn Statement on Wednesday.