2. Invest in social and physical infrastructure
What needs to happen?
Central to a caring economy is investment in social and physical infrastructure. Infrastructure encompasses both physical structures such as roads and bridges, as well as social services such as healthcare, social care and education services. Both social and physical infrastructure go beyond benefiting the immediate service users to have a broader positive impact on wider society with benefits felt over time. Social and physical infrastructure must provide public services which support wellbeing on an equitable basis. This infrastructure should be well-funded, accountable to users, designed according to their needs, and managed and provided at an appropriate level for the service. This may be at the community level, local authority level, regional level, devolved nation level or cross-UK level. Investment in infrastructure must also actively seek to reduce emissions. In this section, sustainability is particularly highlighted in discussion of housing, transport, and education.
How should things change?
- Ensure sustainable and adequate funding, at all levels of government, of public services, and ensure that procurement prioritises equality, wellbeing and sustainability, above lowest financial cost
- Establish a free-at-the-point-of-use, high quality Universal Care Service, financed centrally by the public purse, closely connected to the NHS, locally run in consultation with users, with a well-trained and well-paid care workforce
- Introduce free, universal childcare provision, including early childhood education and activities before and after school, offered year-round and on a full-time basis, with increased staff qualification levels and pay
- Increase investment in healthcare, and prioritise funding towards community and primary care, with stronger roles and representation and higher pay for nurses, healthcare assistants and other support staff
- Ensure that specialist Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) support providers are adequately funded, and the police response and criminal justice procedures relating to VAWG are overhauled
- Enable local authorities to build sufficient energy-efficient social housing and genuinely affordable housing, and strengthen rights and protections of tenants in the private sector
- Develop a high quality, green public transport system through increased investment, particularly in bus systems, organised in ways which support people combining paid and unpaid work
- Implement a well-funded education system that prioritises collective caring, wellbeing and challenges gender stereotypes, and ensure that sexual harassment and VAWG is eradicated from educational settings