Crisis of Care in Austerity Britain

The Political Studies Association Research Commission into the Crisis of Care in Austerity Britain will be reporting in September 2016 on the current crisis that is playing out in the delivery of care to older people. The Commission aims to focus particular attention on the impact of austerity on those delivering care to older people.

The crisis of care in Britain is intensifying. However, it is largely discussed in terms of rising costs of care to the state, but rarely in terms of the costs to those engaged in doing this work. Low pay and poor conditions of work for those engaged in care work is a major concern, as is the wellbeing of those in their care. However, the majority of care is performed by family members, including grandparents, with women making up a disproportionate share of these carers. The British welfare state has been important in organising, resourcing and delivering supporting care work in the country, and its contraction is having significant impact on people’s lives. Women in particular have borne the brunt of welfare restructuring not just in terms of job losses but also because they have had to fill the gaps in social support, which have been decimated as a result of cuts in state funded services.

The commission will focus on a number of issues, including: (a) an analysis of how care for older people is governed – especially in England – identifying current shortcomings in public policy and areas of market failure; (b) the impact of the experience of caring on paid and unpaid carers and other family members; (c) a concern with how the experience of caring and being cared for plays out within Britain’s black and minority ethnic (BME) communities (both within BME households and for those employed within the care sector).

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