Changes to the immigration system announced by the Government yesterday could have a “devastating impact” on the social care sector, leaders have warned.
The Government’s Immigration White Paper sets a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for workers seeking five-year visas. One-year visas will be made available to workers below the £30,000 threshold in an effort to provide support to sectors such as social care, the NHS and construction.
Chair of the Independent Care Group Mike Padgham told CHP: “This is another area where the Government is sleep walking into a problem.
“The salary cap is far too high and immigration rules should not be salary dependent.”
Mike said social care workers should be classified as skilled workers under immigration rules, adding more overseas staff would be needed to meet rising demand from the ageing population.
Helen Murphie, immigration specialist and partner in the Health & Social Care team at Royds Withy King Solicitors said the changes would have a “devastating impact” on health and social care.
“There is already a recruitment crisis in the NHS and adult social care, which have 100,000 and 110,000 currently unfilled vacancies respectively,” Helen said.
“The Government has not listened to care providers who fear that placing restrictions on recruiting workers from the EU will exacerbate the staffing crisis. Many care staff and nurses have left the UK since the Brexit referendum which is putting a strain on services.”
Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association, said: “We remain concerned that the visa proposals in the Immigration White Paper will have an impact on the sector and its ability to recruit sufficient care staff to sustain social care needs and services. The new immigration system ideally must adjust skills and salary levels to ensure that social care and health provision can be adequately staffed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“If the Government does not address this social care crisis the knock-on effects to the population and the wider economy will be enormous. People who are best cared for in their homes or in the community will need greater support from their families (putting strain on other areas of the labour market) as well as the NHS. We look forward to engaging with the team looking at the benchmarks prior to full implementation to ensure that providers concerns are addressed.”