Social care leaders have signalled their disappointment at today’s recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
In its response to the Home Secretary’s commission into a points-based system and salary thresholds for immigration, the MAC recommended a £4,400 cut to the immigrants’ salary threshold.
In addressing the impact on low-paid workers in the social care sector, the report acknowledged that “many stakeholders would prefer there to be no salary threshold beyond the minimum wage”.
In addition, the report warned of a rise in pressures on social care caused by a shortage of low-skilled workers.
However, the committee added that the threshold stopped the undercutting of the labour market and ensured migrants made a net positive contribution to the public finances, while supporting the ambition of a “high wage, high skill, high productivity economy”.
“We remain concerned about the situation in social care, but the root cause of the problems there is the failure to offer competitive terms and conditions,” the report said.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, of Care England, commented: “The recommendations of the MAC do not go far enough to meet the challenges of social care recruitment. We need social care to be seen as an essential service, just as the NHS is, and we need social care roles to be given high priority in any points based system, and we need the salary threshold to be set at £15k.”
National Care Association (NCA) executive chair, Nadra Ahmed OBE, added: “It is heartening to note that the committee has addressed the issue that social care needs special consideration, however, it is disappointing that they did not feel the sector should be one of the professions singled out for special consideration within a future points based immigration system. We continue to be concerned that the challenges faced by social care providers in recruiting and retaining staff may remain a barrier to delivering care and support to vulnerable people.”
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), told CHP that lowering the threshold was a “step in the right direction”, but noted it was still too high because “sadly” many social care workers would not be earning that level.
The ICG boss added: “If we could raise what social care workers get paid then maybe this threshold figure would be ok. It’s just that government is ignoring the fact that it has got to spend more on social care.”
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said the proposed threshold would not allow a single care worker to come to the UK.
“The sector is already in crisis,” Christina added. “Placing barriers to recruitment from overseas would cause it huge difficulties.”
A Home Office spokesperson told CHP: “We will deliver on the people’s priorities by introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021 to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world, while reducing low-skilled migration and bringing overall numbers down.