New government plans to deny visas to low-skilled workers deemed a ‘disaster’ for care sector

Smiling healthcare worker and senior woman walking together

Care leaders have responded in “dismay” to new immigration rules, warning that they will “spell disaster” for the sector.

The UK’s post-Brexit point-based – to be introduced from January 2021 – is intended to end dependence on “cheap labour from Europe”, the government said.

The system will deny visas to so-called “low-skilled” workers and the salary threshold for migrants will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600.

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Those coming to the UK must also already have a job offer and be able to speak English.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the reforms would give Britain “full control over who comes to this country for the first time in decades”.

But care professionals has labelled the proposals as “irresponsible”, warning that they will exacerbate workforce shortages in the sector.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “These plans spell absolute disaster for the care sector. Care doesn’t even get a mention in the home secretary’s plans.

“Companies and councils can’t recruit enough staff from the UK so have to rely on care workers from elsewhere. But even with these migrant employees, there’s still way too few care workers to meet demand.

“Suddenly ending this desperately needed supply of labour will cause huge problems across the country. The government simply has to think again.”

The National Care Forum also called for an ‘immediate rethink’ on the proposed plans.

The Forum commented: “The Government’s proposal today is deeply disheartening for all those in the care sector or supported by the care sector. It also has huge implications for the NHS and wider health and care system as it will affect our ability to deliver timely, high quality care for millions of our vulnerable people

“The Government has ignored all the evidence about the current pressures on the care workforce – 122,000 vacancies on any given day – and the realities of the challenge of recruiting in a full employment environment and the shape of the current care workforce.

“The immigration proposals for both the NHS and social care call for an immediate rethink: the new immigration system needs to use the points-based system to award extra points for care worker roles and give a 3-year visa for care workers. Don’t miss this opportunity to support social care, not pile more pressure on it.”

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Sarah Clarke

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