Following the recent publication of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Green Paper, ‘The lives we want to lead’, a campaigner for the introduction of an adult social care voucher scheme has responded to some of the questions posed in the consultation document.
John Woodward, OBE, a pioneer of the childcare voucher scheme back in 2005, which has since helped over 600,000 families – has outlined his views on what action needs to be taken to solve the current care funding crisis.
Advocating that a range of radical funding reforms are required to deliver real change and solve both the short and long-term funding issues, Woodward set out his response to four key questions included within the LGA green paper.
Asked about the role families, individuals and the wider community should play in supporting the wellbeing of those with social care needs, Woodward pointed out that society has a collective responsibility to care for its older people and other adults who need additional care and support. He also highlighted how such a scheme would address the fairness in the sector’s funding, empower individuals to decide how their care funding is spent, drive up care standards, while offering families a workable alternative to supporting loved ones with care needs.
Responding to a question concerning the options given for raising additional funding to pay for the proposed changes to the adult social care and support system, Woodward reiterated his long-held view that the complex funding problem required a range of radical solutions that work in harmony together to offer people choice, control and improved levels of care quality.
Acknowledging the pitfalls of a simplistic hike in income tax, Woodward pointed out how increasing taxation during continued austerity could tip hard working families over the edge and leave many struggling.
Outlining his argument for the introduction of a voucher scheme, Woodward said: “What is needed is a practical approach that puts the individual and top-quality care first. A cross party agreement is needed where we have commitment from all colours that old age, and the care required when we enter it, is going to be appropriately funded.
“Adult social care vouchers would allow taxpayers of all incomes to set aside only what they can afford and accumulate enough over a working lifetime that they do not have to be out of pocket when they need social care, and do not have to make painful decisions, such as selling their home to fund services they desperately need.
“The scheme, as we have seen with Childcare vouchers, would not only offer a popular option for working individuals but would offer employers an additional tool for staff recruitment and retention. The concept would not only form part of the solution to the adult social care crisis but would help bridge the skills gap impacting many sectors in the UK, due to the additional employee benefit.”