Gordon Brown urged by leading employers to back tax breaks for care voucher scheme

Leading employers have called on prime minister Gordon Brown and chancellor Alistair Darling to help carers balance work with their other responsibilities by introducing tax breaks for firms issuing care vouchers.

Sally Davis, chief executive of BT Wholesale and the company’s ‘carers champion’, has written on behalf of a host of companies, urging the government to extend tax breaks to employers issuing care vouchers.

The vouchers would be an employee benefit to help staff with care responsibilities and work in a similar way to childcare vouchers. They could be used to buy a range of services, including extra home care, home repairs, gardening, chiropody and other preventative services.

The letter states: “Our reasons for supporting this proposal are both economically sound and community minded. We feel that, as is the situation with new parents, employers and government have a duty to support individuals in this way.

“However, we also recognise that demographic changes are creating the need to find innovative ways to support staff with their caring roles – older and female workers in particular.”

According to charity Carers UK, within 30 years, more than 25% of the population will be aged over 65 and the number of carers will rise to nine million.

Research earlier this year by the London School of Economics revealed the economic benefits of the proposal. It predicted that for only £37m investment from the government, £83m could be generated for care services.

Davis said: “The care voucher proposal offers a straightforward, affordable and effective way for employers to support their staff with caring responsibilities. On behalf of all the supporters of this proposal, we call on the prime minister and chancellor to put in place the tax exemptions needed to make it a reality.”

Other firms backing the care voucher scheme include Ford, IBM, HSBC and the John Lewis Partnership.

Personnel Today is backing the tax breaks for carers campaign, which is supported by a broad group of organisations, including charities, employers’ organisations and voucher providers.

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