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Immigration policy risks 460,000 care system ‘black hole’, says union

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Changes to immigration policy could create a 460,000 ‘black hole’ in the social care system, the GMB Union has warned.

ONS analysis requested by the union reveals there were over 350,000 adult social care workers who were born in EU and non-EU countries in the year to September 2019, up by 43% since 2009/10.

Of these, 115,000 care workers were originally from the EU and 237,000 were from outside the region.

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Almost a fifth of the social care workforce was born outside the UK, with this figure having increased significantly since 2009/10.

In addition, the ONS estimates there are 110,000 vacancies in the sector, equivalent to 8% of the workforce, compare with an all-sector average of 2.8%.

Immigration measures announced by the Government last month include cutting the migrant salary threshold to £25,600.

According to Skills for Care, private provider care worker earnings averaged £16,200 last year.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “The demand on social care services is increasing every day, workloads are already unmanageable, and the Government has no plan for filling the black hole of almost half a million workers that could result from their policy.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “At a time when our care system is facing its greatest ever crisis, this Government seems determined to hack away at its greatest asset – our carers.”

“The Migration Advisory Committee has been clear that immigration is not the solution to addressing staffing levels in the social care sector. Senior care workers who meet the criteria will still be able to come to the UK through the points-based system.

“We are working alongside employers to ensure the workforce has the right number of people to meet increasing demands and have recently launched a national recruitment campaign.

“We are also providing councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion for adults and children’s social care in 2020-21.”

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The author Lee Peart

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