Employers and campaigners call for tax breaks for carers

A host of leading UK employers and campaign groups have called on the government to introduce tax breaks for workers with caring responsibilities.

Under the proposals, tax breaks would enable employers to offer a voucher for employees who care for a relative, similar to those avail-able to buy childcare, mobile phones and bicycles.

The move is designed to help the three million people in the UK who currently juggle work and care responsibilities – about 12% of the total UK workforce.

The proposal is backed by employers including HSBC, BT, Ford, Nationwide and John Lewis and campaign groups including Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Working Families and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

Caroline Waters, director of people and policy at BT, said: “As many as three out of five people in the UK will be caring at some stage in their lives. We believe that employer-supported adult care schemes will help carers engage with work and improve the quality of life for those being cared for.”

Sue Jex, group head of diversity at HSBC, said: “Retention of skills and experience is a crucial issue for all businesses, whatever their size. There are many benefits to providing flexibility for carers, including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved staff retention and morale.”

Stephen Burke, chief executive of Counsel and Care, said: “Staff with ‘eldercare’ responsibilities have different needs and different work-life balance issues to parents, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be met. Employers need to recognise eldercare issues and look at ways they can respond to this challenge, with the support of government.”

The call comes as a survey of employers by political consultancy Westminster Advisers shows 47% of firms reported a rise in awareness of the need to do more to support employees who care for an older person, but that only 11% were currently reviewing their policies to reflect that demand.

Only 17% of the 154 employers questioned had already implemented a policy to address the issue.

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