Changes to Immigration Rules have been announced by the government to help social care providers recruit from overseas.
Senior care workers have been added to the Shortage Occupation List, which gives people in these roles an advantage in obtaining a skilled worker visa.
Residential, day and domiciliary care managers are among those added to the list as the government made a u-turn on its previous policy.
Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said: “Every year we welcome healthcare workers from across the world to our United Kingdom, with many having played a key role on the frontline of the NHS during the recent pandemic. This latest set of changes, combined with our Health and Care Visa, will ensure they can easily get the immigration status they deserve.”
The policy changes were welcomed by care leaders with Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, commenting: “I am pleased that the government has acknowledged the challenges of recruiting social care managers, this is something we have long called for. We hope that this is the start of a process towards the creation of a migration system which supports rather than undermines the development of the adult social care workforce.”
Raj Sehgal, Managing Director of ArmsCare, said: “I for one am delighted that the Home Secretary has given some consideration to the needs of the social care sector, which is supported by Skills for Care and the Migration Advisory Committee.
“For us and indeed many care homes that suffer with quality issues, having the option to recruit more able, willing and qualified Senior Care workers will make the difference between survival and closure.”
James Wild MP for North West Norfolk said the move was a “welcome decision” that helped to address “short term issues with recruitment”.
Mr Wild told CHP: “In recent months, I have spoken to the Home Secretary and Minister for Immigration on many occasions about the calls from the sector to be able to recruit senior care workers internationally. As well as adding this route, it is right that the government has launched a campaign to encourage more people to consider a career in caring.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of NCA, said: “NCA has campaigned tirelessly over the past three years to ensure that migrant recruitment into social care remained an option to the sector as Brexit impacted. Our preference will always be to recruit from a domestic workforce, as it remains the most effective and sustainable route.
“However, as vacancy rates show no sign of improving and the demographic indicate a clear need for more staff, it was imperative that the HO listened to our concerns and the advice of their own experts who form the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
“We hope that the visa routes are accessible for our sector and there are no hidden barriers to what will be seen as a welcome step from the Home Secretary by social care providers.”