Gloria De Piero: We must tackle gender pay gap

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Last week 258 MPs, myself included, voted YES to make large companies publish their gender pay gap, so we women can challenge unequal pay and action can be taken to put it right.

I was joined at a huge rally in Parliament by some of the incredible ladies who staged the legendary first strike at Dagenham’s Ford plant in 1968 for equal pay, stars from the Made in Dagenham hit musical and women’s magazine Grazia.

It’s shocking that, despite the Equal Pay Act being passed 44 years ago, women still earn on average 81p for every pound earned by men.

My research revealed shocking new figures which show that because of the gender pay gap, women earn an average £209,976 less over their lifetime than men. That is the cost of a big family home!

Although Labour MPs voted through the motion the government indicated it didn’t intend to make pay transparency the law.

Tellingly, the Lib Dem Minister for Women even went on the news to say she backed pay transparency but didn’t vote for it.

Women in Ashfield will be wondering why the government failed to back equal pay for them.

We shouldn’t have to wait another generation for equal pay and if ministers aren’t prepared to act, a Labour government will.

In what has been a very busy week, I also attended a key vote to try and scrap the hated Bedroom Tax before Christmas.

Since it was introduced around half a million low-income households have been forced to find on average an extra £700 a year.

Two thirds of those affected include a person with a disability as well as 60,000 carers.

For the vast majority, there is nowhere smaller to go, hitting vulnerable people and often costing more cash than it saves.

Over 1,000 people in Ashfield are being made to pay the bedroom tax - many are relying on food banks to survive as a result.

It’s shocking in this day and age and that’s why I did the right thing and voted to get rid of this, cruel, unjust and failing policy.

It’s just a shame ministers are too stubborn to admit they made a mistake.

Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas.

Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, I hope you have a wonderful time.