John Woodward OBE, one of the driving forces behind the successful Childcare Vouchers Scheme, is campaigning to get a similar initiative back on the political agenda post COVID-19, to help end the adult social care funding crisis.
His proposed solution for adult social care would allow for vouchers to be accrued, if required, and used towards either a dependent relative’s social care and/or the participants own care, when the need arises.
The initiative, backed by Care England, is based on the Childcare Vouchers Scheme, first introduced by Woodward, the co-founder of childcare provider Busy Bees, in the late 1990s. Used by more than 600,000 people, it allowed eligible tax payers to sacrifice a capped portion of their salary to pay for childcare.
Woodward’s hope is that when lockdown restrictions begin to lift, he can shine a spotlight on the Adult Social Care Vouchers Scheme once again.
“Certainly, coronavirus has given further exposure to the gaping holes in social care, but it has also provided a catalyst for great and much needed change,” he said.
“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no denying that the ripple effect across sectors will be a huge challenge to overcome.
“The adult social care funding crisis was in dire straits before Covid-19 reached our shores and because of the on-going public health crisis, it is still well and truly with us – and the subject has understandably stalled.”
The Local Government Association recently published research which shows that adult social care services face a funding gap of almost £4bn by 2025, just to cover basic inflationary and demographic pressures.
The current social care funding gap stands at £2.5 billion.
Woodward said he wants MPS and the opposition to wield the same power they had over the government’s Brexit deal towards social care.
“Whilst it seems a long time ago, the only item on the government’s list this year was Brexit, because MPs made their voices heard on this issue. Just as Brexit led to MPs collaborating on a cross-party basis to force the government to bring forward meaningful votes and economic projections, MPs have the power to do the same and force the government to bring forward desperately needed proposals on social care.”
Backing his plans, Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “Social care needs and deserves the attention of Parliament. For too long it has been the poor relation to the NHS which is very short sighted. Health and social care need to be integrated properly and funding solutions put into place. A salary sacrifice scheme, as proposed by John, is an innovative solution that if implemented could have many benefits as well as embracing intergenerational care.”
For more information about the Adult Social Care Vouchers scheme, click here.