An adult social care vouchers scheme has been put forward by John Woodward OBE, president and founder of the Busy Bees Group, to help solve the social care crisis in the UK. Both Mr Woodward and the organisation were instrumental in lobbying the government to help working families with childcare costs via a non-taxable benefit. The result was the Childcare Voucher scheme which launched in 2005 and has helped more than 600,000 families. Here, John explains how the voucher scheme could work for adults needing care…
For disabled people living in their own homes or in residential care, how is the cost of social care currently being met?
In short, the cost of social care isn’t even close to being met. The current state funding in care is £490 per week per adult, which is more than £100 per week below the actual cost of a basic level of care.
To cover the difference, private self-funded patient costs are being inflated, effectively meaning privately funded adults are paying an additional tax on their own care to accommodate for the gap in state funding for others.
Is the social care which disabled adults currently receive adequate?
In 2017 the Care Quality Commission gave a third of care homes an “inadequate” or “requires improvement” rating. Disabled adults in our community need and deserve top quality care, but in the current funding crisis these people are being forgotten. When my own mum need care in a home it made me realise what a burden it is for the vast majority of people.
Why did you put forward the proposal for social care vouchers to the Treasury, and what was their reaction?
I am really passionate about adult social care and having seen the success of childcare vouchers I immediately saw vouchers as a way to help bridge the funding gap, give families more flexibility, and improve care provisions. I took it to the Treasury for maximum impact and gained the support of House of Lords and House of Commons members. I am looking forward to the publishing of the long-awaited green paper to see how the government uses this. I hope it recognises the necessary partnership between the public and private sector and how they should be working together.
What could the vouchers be spent on, in terms of disability support, domestic care etc?
The vouchers would be used to assist with funding residential and domestic care.
Would people in need of mental health social care qualify for the vouchers?
People in need of domestic or residential care for mental health reasons would qualify as disabled and would therefore be eligible to use vouchers to fund their care. For example, my sister runs a home for people with learning disabilities. The vouchers wouldn’t cover everything, but it would certainly help a lot.
Could working people buy their own vouchers?
The scheme works via salary sacrifice, so working adults can set aside a capped amount each month for adult social care vouchers that could then be used for their or a family member’s present or future care.
What do you expect the upcoming green paper on adult social care to contain in terms of meeting costs?
I expect the paper to propose several means of funding adult social care, including using vouchers to supplement state and private funding. I believe that by introducing vouchers into the mix, we can go some way to help bridge the gap between funding and cost for an overall improved care sector and better care for adults.