People caring for sick and elderly relatives should be eligible for Time Bank schemes and be rewarded by the Government for being active citizens.
This is one of the conclusions of Carers UK's new report Adding Value: Carers as Drivers of Social Change, released this week to coincide with Carers Week.
Carers are increasingly acting as engineers of social change, says the charity. More than half of the carers who responded to a survey it commissioned were actively involved in voluntary activities such as self-help groups, raising money for charities or sitting on NHS advisory bodies.
Carers involved in volunteering put in an average of 18 hours a month, on top of their caring responsibilities, the survey showed.
Now the charity hopes that its "rebranding
of carers as active citizens will help get attention and much needed cash from Government, in particular the Active Community Unit.
Rory Hegarty, spokesman for Carers UK, said: "Carers are one of the most excluded groups in society and it makes sense to involve them not only in order to tackle social exclusion but to promote citizenship."