Public wants an economy that prioritises care

The Women’s Budget Group has unearthed overwhelming public support for urgent changes to the UK’s economy, with many wanting better priority given to investment in care services.

Data released by the group shows that people want to see priority given to investment in care services and social security alongside more government support for women and men to share care more equally. Strikingly, a majority agreed that they would be happy to pay more tax to support this change.

The report, Creating a Caring Economy: A Call to Action, finds that 82 per cent of respondents t their polling agree that social care for older people and disabled people should be available to everyone based on their care needs not their wealth. Three quarters of respondents say they would pay more tax to support investment in free social care for all adults over the age of 65 and disabled people.

Additionally, 55 per cent believe investment in social care, health and education is more important to the future of the economy than the government’s preference for investment in transport and technology, with a further 38 per cent thinking it is equally important.

Nearly eight in ten agree that a better balance is needed between paid work, caring responsibilities, and free time, with three in four agreeing that economic equality between women and men is the mark of a good society and 55 per cent saying it is a political priority for them.

Marion Sharples, Project Manager of the Women’s Budget Group’s Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy, said: “This report has launched as we are entering a second wave of Coronavirus. For far too long the government has been tinkering with policies and expecting these tweaks to deliver wholly different outcomes. What the polling and the Commission’s report show us is that in order to have an economy that works for everyone we need a bold vision of an economy that includes everyone.

“Care is central to this vison. We will all require care at some point in our lives. At the moment care work isn’t shared fairly, with women doing the majority of care, both paid and unpaid. This means women have less time for paid work and other activities, so they earn less, own less and are more likely to be living in poverty. At the same time men are expected to be the main breadwinner, so they do not have the time to care for others.

“Our polling shows that both women and men want to change this and they are willing pay for it through higher tax. The report lays out a vision of an economy where we have time to care, and time free from care. There is also a strong call among the public for the government to help facilitate this change and our report lays out how we can do things differently.”