The Spring Budget has been a hot topic amongst my female friends – many of whom are from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.
Overall, women worry that the Budget impacts disproportionately on them, but this is not the conversation I’ve found myself having with my BME female friends, who are optimistic and determined to take charge of their own budgets.
The Spring Budget was well-received by most of my female colleagues, including those from BME backgrounds. Personal tax allowances – currently £11,000 – will increase to £11,500, and rise to £12,500 by 2020-2. The higher tax threshold will increase from £43,000 to £45,000.
Those among us who freelance breathed a sigh of relief that the announced increase in National Insurance tax contributions for self-employed people would now not occur. This would have been challenging to entrepreneurs, freelancers and self-employed people. Many start-up businesses are run by women, who test the water by starting small, before becoming self-employed.
As women of a certain age, we are all savers, looking for a good return on our investments – and most of us have one eye on the stock market. Here we were, talking about shares and ISAs. How different from our carefree twenties.
The launch of the Lifetime Individual Saving Account (Lifetime ISA), for those aged between 18 and 40 certainly caught our imaginations, since we were impressed to hear that the government would add a 25 per cent bonus to help savers buy a home, or add to a pension.
This would help BME members, and those in poorer working class communities. It could also take the pressure off our middle-class friends who normally act as managers of the bank of mum and dad.
In my experience, growing up in a BME Asian family in a working-class, largely white neighbourhood, the friends I grew up with are hard-working, proud people. They do not sit and complain, or blame the government, the budget or anyone else for what may or may not be their reality.
The BME women I know are some of the strongest females in my circle of friends – mentally robust, with a positive ‘can do’ attitude that never ceases to amaze and inspire me.
As friends pointed out, it’s about taking control. Make your life the best it can be, without sinking into victimhood. So, we looked for the positives that came out of the budget: how it would help us as individuals, as families and in the general community.
For instance, we were pleased that anyone over 16 could invest in the new NS&I Investment Bonds, subject to a minimum investment of £100 and a maximum limit of £3,000 that savers must lock in for three years. This won overall support from my ladies around the table.
We agree that we can’t blame the government, the Budget, or Society. We take personal responsibility for our finances, and make our own choices about our lives.
We are strong women. The consensus is that we take our own budgetary control. We don’t allow the Budget to control us.
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About the author
Dawn-Maria France is an award-winning and accomplished journalist and the editor-in-chief of Yorkshire Women’s Life, now in its 15th year.
She is passionate about women’s rights, equality and diversity and has written opinion features for the Huffington Post about equality, women and mental health and women’s portrayal in the media.