Let’s pay parents to bring up their children

SIR – David Goodhart (Cover story, April 21) describes childcare as “the most important job on the planet” – for which outside carers get paid but mum gets “nothing”.

Surely the answer is to recognise in-family care as “real employment that should be paid at the appropriate rate”: viz, at least in relation to what “outside care” would receive and certainly no less than the national minimum. This would raise the whole status of in-family carers from “economic dependant” to “contributor”, and give them a real choice between taking the income themselves as a recompense for care, or buying good outside care which would leave them free to pursue an outside career. We would, of course, all have to pay the price (tax) for this, as we do for similar public services including general education; but overall, it would raise the overall level of (official) employment, income and prosperity.

Such a “monetisation of what was previously free” is in fact a fairly standard move in economics. Water supply, for example – once free to all from the village pump – is now specifically priced, but without anyone suggesting that it is anything other than a positive contributor to economic growth.

Putting all certified in-family care on a paid basis would obviously be a radical move. But that’s no reason for not getting the point on the table at this time: “giving family care the priority it should have” could be a practical step in accentuating the new “era of mercy”.

Yours faithfully,

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