The government is looking at plans to exempt the social care sector from a proposed post-Brexit migration policy over fears that it could worsen the workforce crisis.
The news came from a Whitehall source, who said a no-deal Brexit could lead to the social care system collapsing by Christmas.
“Leaving the EU in October is a different prospect from March, creating a perfect storm. Some workers leave the social care system to take up seasonal retail work as it is better paid,” the source told The Times.
“This will be coupled with the potential exodus of the migrant workers and an influx of expats.”
The government has proposed that migrants coming to the UK post-Brexit would face a £30,000 minimum salary threshold.
Social care experts believe this would exacerbate staff shortages in the sector, which has around 110,000 vacancies.
Dr Jane Townson, CEO of United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) said in a recent letter to the Prime Minister: “If post-Brexit migration policy settles on high salary thresholds for skilled workers; the £30,000 threshold and required academic qualifications are unrealistic for most homecare employers and will leave social care increasingly unable to meet the demands from our aging population.”
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has also said that given the number of people in social care that come from the EU – there are now around 100,000 – it is likely that the sector will “struggle to cope” unless there is an “absolute guarantee” from the government that EU nationals can continue to work in the UK, without disruption.
Glen Garrod, former president of ADASS said in February: “Our valued and dedicated workforce, which includes care workers, activities co-ordinators, personal care assistants and occupational therapists, perform essential everyday tasks to help look after our elderly and vulnerable population. This includes helping people to wash, dress and feed themselves, plus other basic care, which they simply could not do otherwise.”
Reacting to ADASS’ comments, George McNamara, director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: “Arbitrarily shutting the door on dedicated social care workers from EU countries will do nothing more than perpetuate the growing staff crisis in social care.
“The government’s proposal to adopt a £30,000 minimum salary threshold would be a punishing and cold view of those who provide daily care for older people and some of the most vulnerable in society, and will only result in more people unable to access vital health and care support.”