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Social care reform that doesn’t rock the boat

By guest blogger JOHN?WOODWARD

Adult social care reform has been delayed, delayed and delayed again. The problem seems to be a government with no majority, unwilling to raise taxes and beset by a Brexit-filled legislative agenda, trying to come up with wide-ranging proposals for social care reform that stand a chance of passing a hopelessly deadlocked House of Commons.

All the while, politicians consider the NHS as an example of the kind of reform we need to tackle the social care crisis. But an NHS-type system for adult social care would require reforms ranging from nationalisation, harmonisation of wages and of course, much higher taxes. The Government lacks the kind of majority and political will to push through such changes.

We must remember systems like the NHS, while admirable and, in the future, something to aspire to for our social care system, are not the norm. Few places around the world really have government-run healthcare systems like we do.

We need radical changes but they must be tried, tested and uncontroversial enough that they don’t rock the boat but take us in the right direction. In other words, we need a more British approach to social care reform.

We’ve done this before with salary sacrifice schemes. Instead of raising taxes, we could encourage people to pay towards their care by making it tax free. By introducing such a scheme to families, older people are supported by their loved ones. Salary sacrifice, based on the childcare vouchers scheme, would inject more money. It worked in the past, and it can work for adult social care as well.

These changes wouldn’t miraculously fix the system or deliver a ‘NHS for social care’. But they can make a difference to one of the biggest issues facing our country.

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