Jobs that do not make a profit – such as caring for family members — are not valued as they should be in our society. As the pandemic has shown, this is also true of essential workers in the public and private sectors.
We should not be surprised: capitalism is a system organised to make profit. Most of that profit belongs to the wealthiest top layer of people. Most of it is not invested back into the community, funding vital industries and services. Much of it is spent on luxury products, or on financial and property speculation, or sent to British-run tax havens around the world. To those who have, more shall be given.
By forcing as many people as possible into waged work, capitalism erodes our bonds of family and community. Fewer people are left to care for our children, our elderly and our most vulnerable. Of those who do, many face poverty and a lack of support from a system that doesn’t care much about the carers.
Overwhelmingly, it is women who bear the brunt of unpaid and low-paid care work in our society.
Depending on the circumstances, caring for others leaves many carers at an extra disadvantage when they reach retirement age. As well as missing out on an occupational or workplace pension, they may not qualify for the full state pension.
Caring for children, too, is undervalued and in many cases unpaid. Entitlements to child-related tax credits and benefits have been slashed.
Yet 180,000 children in Wales live in poverty. That is more than one in four (28%) and rising due to Tory welfare reforms and the impact of Covid on jobs and incomes. Worse is coming unless we stop it.
That’s why Welsh Communists propose these measures as part of a programme across Britain to support parents, children and carers and abolish child poverty:
- A Social Wage for all parents and carers who leave waged work in order to care for children, family or community members.
- The full state pension for all parents and carers who have taken time away from waged work to care for their children, family or community members.
- More extensive paid maternity and paternity leave for all parents: keep jobs open to parents until all their children are of statutory school age.
- Free childcare from birth for those parents who wish to return to waged work after childbirth.
- Paid Parental Leave from work for child-related emergencies.
- A generously funded and robust National Care Service which would offer services for care in much the same way as a generously funded and robust NHS can offer services for health.