John Woodward OBE, one of the driving forces behind the introduction of childcare vouchers in 2005, is campaigning to get a similar scheme back on track post Covid-19 to help end the adult social care crisis.
The coronavirus has seen almost all countries around the world shut down in order to contain the outbreak, and the draconian measures with which we have all had to adopt have placed massive restrictions on the daily lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.
In what has been an unprecedented response to an intensifying global health crisis, many weeks in and we are all now wondering exactly when things might revert back to ‘normal’ or a new normal that will allow for other matters to gain the share of voice that’s deserved and long overdue.
John Woodward, OBE, pioneer of the Childcare Voucher Scheme, used by more than 600,000 people, will soon begin to call on MPs to continue to pressure the government into finally making clear its proposals on adult social care reform.
“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no denying that the ripple effect across sectors will be a huge challenge to overcome,” comments John.
“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.”
Today there is a £2.5 bn gap in social care funding. This should come as no surprise as it was predicted many years ago and stated in a report by the County Councils Network in 2018. The Health Foundation has warned that by 2023/24, that gap will increase to £4.4 bn.
As coronavirus restrictions begin to be relaxed from the Summer and Autumn, Mr Woodward will once again step up his campaign again to get the social care funding crisis back on the agenda.
“I want 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.”
Mr Woodward’s proposals, backed by Care England, (the representative body for independent providers of adult social care) and a major high-street bank, would deliver more money for the social care system without requiring excessive tax rises. Based on the innovative Childcare Voucher Scheme, first introduced by Busy Bees in the late 1990s, Adult Social Care vouchers would offer a tried and tested way of delivering more money for the system that can be supported by MPs across the political spectrum.
Professor Martin Green OBE, 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 Busy Bees, is an innovative solution that if implemented could have many benefits as well as embracing intergenerational care”
The scheme should form part of a mixed policy response and does not aim to provide a one size fits all solution to the social care crisis. Adult social care vouchers would instead allow eligible taxpayers to sacrifice a portion of their salary to fund either their own or a dependant adult’s care, giving families freedom and flexibility, while reducing the burden on the taxpayer.
John concludes: “It has taken just twelve weeks for the coronavirus to bring the world to a complete standstill and to put our lives and our societies on lockdown. No doubt, it will be a long time before everything returns to normal again and the devastating impact on health and its insidious undermining of our society is here to stay until we have a vaccine.
I echo Andy Burnham’s proposal for a new intergenerated service that taps the wealth of the older generations by 15% contributions on retirement to go some ways towards funding a decent care service for all with well paid staff and will watch the developments on this, with interest.
“My hope is that when NHS intensive care wards do begin to show signs of a major slow down, we can begin to repair the social care funding crisis by shining a spotlight on the subject once again. Certainly, coronavirus has exposed the gaping holes in social care, but it is also a chance for great change”