Brace yourselves: this is going to be a ranty one.
Heard the one about the Home Sectetary who reckons ‘economically inactive’ people like stay at home mums could help fill gaps in the UK’s workforce?
Priti Patel has been branded ‘clueless’ after suggesting 8.5 million people not currently seeking work in the UK – including the 1.9 million looking after family or home – could replace the workers we’ll lose when her controversial new points-based immigration plan kicks in at the end of the year. And I couldn’t agree more.
Quite apart from the fact that less than 2 million of the 8.5 million ‘economically inactive’ people in the UK are recorded as actually wanting a job by the Office for National Statistics, what really gets my goat is the implication that stay at home parents aren’t already carrying out a valuable role and contributing to society by caring for and raising little people.
Stay at home mums are not ‘economically inactive’!
I’m sorry, but in my book stay at home mums – and dads – are not economically inactive!
They might technically fall into that definition – they don’t have a paid job, they haven’t looked for one in the past month and they’re not planning to – but that doesn’t make them economically inactive. They’re as economically active as I am, the only difference is they don’t get paid for it.
Quite apart from the fact they’re busily employed raising the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers, vets, politicians and future prime ministers, there’s also the local economies they’re supporting.
The cafes with the thousands of pounds spent on moral support tea and cake; the yoga classes and tumble tots sessions which benefit the grown ups as much as they do the babies; the water babies and baby massage classes that have helped fellow new parents go into business on their own.
And, even if stay at home parents were happy to fill the government’s self-inflicted workplace gaps, who’s going to look after the children? Anyone with two – or more – preschoolers knows you need to be earning well above the minimum wage, and then some, for it to make financial sense to return to work owing to the eye-watering childcare fees, hence the reason they’re stay at home parents in the first place.
Perhaps it’s because I’m almost eight months’ pregnant and extremely hormonal, or perhaps it’s simply because I’m fed up with the way the role of parents – stay at home, working, work-and-stay-at-home – are constantly undermined and undervalued by the powers that be that’s got me so wound up. Either way, to me the suggestion that stay at home mums – and dads – are economically inactive is as bad as classing them as unemployed.
What do you think? Do news stories like this wind you up too? I’d love to hear your point of view!