A group of 37 organisations representing the UK’s health and social care system have issued a stark warning to the PM regarding the government’s Immigration Bill.
In a letter to the Prime Minister the Cavendish Coalition expressed “grave concern that the current proposals around the Immigration Bill will have a damaging impact on the care sector.
The proposals, which were approved by MPs in May, will grant entry to the UK through a points system based on a range of factors, including qualifications, ability to speak English and a salary £25,600 or more.
With salaries in England of between £16,400 and £18,000, the Coalition points out that care workers will fail to meet the points’ threshold leaving social care heading “swiftly towards an alarming destination with no obvious solution”.
With foreign nationals accounting for one in six social care jobs and vacancies standing at 122,000 in England, the letter argues it would be “unwise” to rely on the domestic workforce to solve the nation’s recruitment problems. It adds the shortfall is likely to be exacerbated following the pandemic with a recent survey finding that one in five are preparing to leave the sector.
The Coalition also warns that retention will also become a growing problem with social care workers identified as twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as the general population.
The signatories argue it is “critical” for the government to put a transitional solution in place for social care in January 2021 to navigate the gap between the introduction of the new system and a longer term plan and funding settlement.
They add: “Our international care workers make a phenomenal and essential contribution to our health and care sector, and without them here, patient care would be unsafe. In social care, without them we will see reductions in beds, care homes will close and people will be starved of the help they need and deserve in their own homes, which is critical to them living well.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Migration Advisory Committee has been very clear in its assertion that immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector.
“As we implement the new immigration system, we want employers to focus on investing in our domestic work force.
“Additionally, the EU Settlement Scheme means that all EU and EAA citizens, and their family members, currently working in social care can stay in the UK and we are encouraging them to do so.”