The Government has announced a new points-based immigration system that will close the door on recruiting care and support workers from outside the UK. The proposals totally misunderstand the nature of and issues facing the care and support sector. Indeed, the Government has been silent on the challenge the MAC made about the long term funding of social care, which maintained that the “very real problems in this sector are caused by a failure to offer competitive terms and conditions, something that is itself caused by a failure to have a sustainable funding model.” Restricting immigration won’t fix this – it will simply make it harder to recruit. We must also never forget that those working in care are highly-skilled but are low-paid due to the chronic under-funding of the system. The implication in these proposals that low-pay equates to low-skill is simply untrue for workers in social care.
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 – 122,00 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.
And whilst it has taken some of the advice of the MAC in terms of reducing salary thresholds, this is of little help to social care as the £25,600 threshold exceeds the annual pay of front line care staff.
Without a sustainable funding model for social care from the Government, the ambition to pay our highly skilled workforce more is simply not possible. And, the assumption that low pay equates to low skill does not reflect the huge value our care workers bring – compassion, care and resilience cannot be demonstrated by a PhD or automated.
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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Notes for Editors:
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