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Authors: Trish Hill and Cathy Thomson

Social inclusion is a contested concept that identifies the basis for social membership and valued activities in any society. Within social inclusion assessments, care is often overlooked or perceived to be a risk factor for exclusion and a barrier to inclusion. Drawing on ideas from care theories, we argue that social inclusion needs revising to take account of care. While the idea of social inclusion can underscore the structures, mechanisms and practices that underpin socially generated care inequalities, revisions are necessary to incorporate insights from care theories and to provide an adequate assessment of carers’ social inclusion.

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This chapter examines the issue of combining paid work with the care of a disabled or seriously ill partner in England and Australia. It begins by using survey data on working-age partner-carers’ demographic characteristics, participation in paid employment, the services and welfare benefits they access, their reasons for leaving paid work and their future employment plans. In both countries, carers of a disabled or seriously ill partner tend to be older than carers of other people, have heavier care responsibilities, and are more likely to be in paid employment. Approximately half of English and Australian partner carers are men, a much higher percentage than carers of other people. In both countries, there are no support services dedicated specifically to partner-carers, although they have access to policies and initiatives available to carers in general. Case studies are used to illustrate the challenges faced by partner-carers in trying to reconcile their caring and employment roles, and recent policy developments in each country and their implications for this group of carers are discussed. The chapter concludes by considering the effectiveness of the support available to partner-carers and the implications of the evidence available for future policy development.

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