The British economy could be boosted by more than £5 billion a year if those forced to give up jobs to care for sick or disabled loved-ones could be helped back into work, a study claims.

Almost six million people in England and Wales provide some kind of regular unpaid care for spouses, parents, children or close friends, analysis of returns from the last national census suggests.

That includes more than one in five of those in their 50s or early 60s. More than a third of carers dedicate more than 20 hours per week to it.

A joint study by the charity Age UK and Carers UK, which supports carers, also concludes that even providing a faction of that amount of care can severely curtail people’s long-term career prospects and earning potential.

So, what’s the suggestion then? Correct, that people should be paid to do this work so that these people should go do other stuff in stead of unpaid care.

Yes, that increases the size of the economy but that’s only because of the way we measure GDP. It doesn’t actually boost anything of any value, does it?

And might even reduce ……do we think that the council scrote coming around offers the same level and standard of care as your own partner doing so?

18 thoughts on “Sigh”

  1. As someone with a severely disabled wife, the fact that carers come to do things like washing, dressing, routine nappy changes and getting lunch ready means that I can still work as a software engineer. While that is good for the economy as a whole, it’s also beneficial for the household accounts — and I get to do stuff that I enjoy rather than all chore all the time.

  2. Once again, what Tim Newman said.

    The real scandal is those families dumping granny in the tender care of the State, not the ones that DO perform the actual function of a family unit!”

  3. “do we think that the council scrote coming around offers the same level and standard of care as your own partner doing so?”

    Comparative advantage, Tim!

  4. Are there regulations at play making care more expensive? For instance, as a computer programmer I should be able to afford a low skilled carer to care for my hypothetical sick relative. But if something is pushing up costs I might find it cheaper to do it myself. That sort of problem would be worth addressing.

  5. The Other Bloke in Italy

    Did they abolish Attendance Allowance? In my time I saw several cases of people being able to afford to work part-time while caring for a relative.

  6. @ Rob Fisher
    Lots of them – starting with Income Tax and National Insurance, followed by Employer’s Liability Insurance. So you need to earn an extra £1.56 to pay the carer £1. If the carer is employed by an agency then you have to pay for administration and the agency’s profit and you now have to pay for travelling time as well, which pushes the cost towards £2. But it wasn’t the cost that put me off hiring someone to do housework when I was earning a lot (and being paid some of it): it was the bureaucratic hassle.

  7. Deliberate socialist policy that citizen cannot afford to employ citizen. The state, which only pays the net, can afford as many as it likes.

  8. It doesn’t actually boost anything of any value, does it?

    As per The Sage’s example above, it can add value. If a small subsidy helps high-earners get back into work, then it can more than pay for itself. Obviously the subsidy can’t exceed the tax paid by the earner. One obvious solution is to allow Mr Sage to pay for his carer out of gross income rather than net.

    Same applies to paying for childcare. Merryn Somerset Webb crunched some numbers here.

    The danger is that the subsidy (or tax break) is given to those who don’t need it, i.e. those who would have paid full-whack. For example if my wife is currently at home looking after the kids, I can decide to start paying her out of my gross income. Because she was already doing the work for free, that’s a significant loss to the exchequer. Not sure how to square that circle.

  9. When Hillary Clinton was in the White House (as Bill’s wife),
    she tried to reorganize the system of taxation so that anyone performing tasks for themselves (in addition to their regular, income-taxed employment) would be taxed on the “equivalent
    value” of that particular work. In other words, the family would have to pay income tax (and social security) on an income
    equivalent to that which would have to be paid to replace the housewife’s services, etc.

    She’s actually a crazy person.

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I hope if she’s elected she tries to re-introduce this idea, as it will serve to hasten the arrival of the long-overdue day when a mob storms the White House and nails her to a tree.

  11. @ BiCR
    She will doubtless claim that Bill’s housework (unlike mine) has nil value so she does not need to pay tax on that.
    I assume that unlike St Peter she will demand that she is nailed head-up.

  12. @Andrew M
    As it happens my wife covers her contribution to her care costs out of her Civil Service pension, having taken ill health retirement some years ago — which just means that between pension and offsets, a fair chunk of the tax I pay gets laundered through the bureaucracy to pay for the care, with some pin money for her Indoors as well.

  13. @ The Sage
    But if she was as healthy as my grandmother was at the same age she would still get a Civil Service pension without deduction for care costs.
    Umm! Why isn’t she/you paying for *all* of her care costs?

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