The National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not-for-profit social care has responded to proposed new government plans to limit immigration announced today by the Home Secretary which follow the recent publication by the ONS of high immigration figures.
The new regulations include the prevention of international care workers bringing dependent family members with them when coming to the UK, other measures which impact on the care sector are a review of the Shortage Occupation List, an increase to the annual immigration health surcharge by 66% from £634 to £1,035 and an increase of the skilled worker threshold to £38,700, but it appears the health and care visa route will be exempt from this.
Professor Vic Rayner, CEO of NCF commented: “Adult social care faces systemic shortages in frontline workforce, and even with the 70,000 or more international workers joining last year, Skills for Care reported 152,000 vacancies in the sector in October. This is unsustainable for any sector, never mind one upon which millions of people rely for care, each and every day. Last summer the government heralded the arrival of international workers, and indeed funded a programme to support local authorities to encourage the recruitment of staff through this mechanism. However, today, it would appear that it wants to restrict the essential arrival of care workers who have been, and remain, fundamental to care.
“The Migration Advisory Committee was always clear in its advice when it included care staff on the Shortage Occupation List as necessary to bring vitally needed staff into the sector. However, it had always noted that in order to properly address shortages in the care workforce it was essential to enhance the pay, terms and conditions of those staff. That is not possible without government reform, and a proper focus on funding the ever growing need for care. The National Audit Office issued a damning report last month which laid bare just how little work had gone on centrally to move forward the already cut reform work on social care. Out of an overall stated workforce budget of over £260 million, only £1.7m had been spent – and ironically this had been on supporting international recruitment plans the government now seem to be overturning. Without this fundamental work on addressing workforce reforms, restricting the supply of international recruits will only cause greater pressure on services, increasing the risk that those who need care will not be able to access it.”
Professor Rayner concluded: “The government must not put at risk the ability of international care workers to become valuable team members, with vital skills and expertise that are fundamental to the delivery of care. What is needed is a balance between international workers coming into the UK, recruited through ethical practices, and better pay, terms and conditions for all care workers fully funded by the state.”