Unpaid care is critical for individuals to flourish, and for society to function. Literally from cradle to grave, receiving care from others can promote rather than diminish our capacity to live independently and in dignity. Whether we consider it in terms of economics or ethics, the care provided within families and communities makes an enormous contribution to our lives.
But care remains a 'grey area' of the welfare state. The way unpaid care is considered in terms of welfare benefits and workplace rights is incoherent. There is little clarity even on the objectives for policy in relation to care. The result is an ineffective policy response to the caring that is carried out right through the life course. If we are to meet rising care needs and costs - as well as the challenges of poverty, economic exclusion and patterns of inequality - this can continue no longer.
This report provides a policy framework for unpaid care in welfare and employment policy. It sets out a way to understand the value of care, and recognise the costs that caring involves. Laying out the principles on which care policy should be built, it goes on to outline what a welfare and employment policy that reflected these principles would look like. The report proposes reform of the central pillars of welfare and workplace policy: the social security and tax credit system, and flexible working and leave rights.
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