The case for investing public funds in care industries, or what we describe here as social infrastructure, is strong. But there is work to do in convincing policy-makers to categorise such spending as investment rather than current, day-to-day, expenditure. In this political climate the majority of policy-makers and political parties believe that additional ‘current’ spending needs to be fully funded in the same year by corresponding tax rises.
They may recognise in principle that the long-term benefits are worthwhile, but they wouldn’t translate this potential into unfunded spending commitment. The challenge for social researchers is to show the relative social and economic merits of different spending priorities and the goals that can be achieved. Moreover, investing in social infrastructure is not just about economic and productivity increases but is necessary to sustain the social fabric, in ways that are similar to what needs to be done to deal with climate change and environmental degradation. The other major issue to stress, and perhaps the most important one, is that investing in high quality social infrastructure is not just about creating employment or reducing gender unemployment and earning inequalities. It is first and foremost about provision of the essential services that support the community and which people need for a high quality of life.