Immigration regime will be a disaster for social care – comment from law firm Royds Withy King
The Government has confirmed today that its points-based immigration system will not include visas for so-called “low-skilled” workers, which includes staff in the health and social care sectors.
The new immigration regime will be catastrophic for the health and social care sector, warns social care lawyers Royds Withy King.
James Sage, Head of the Social Care team and a specialist employment lawyer at Royds Withy King said: “Although the Government has reduced the salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 per year, this will not enable care providers to recruit care staff from overseas. Significant and sustained underfunding of services by the Government makes it impossible for providers to increase pay rates to these levels.
“It is also of concern that the salary threshold makes no allowance for part-time staff, even if they earn the required amount on a pro-rata basis. In a sector that is heavily reliant on a part-time and predominantly female workforce, it will be particularly challenging to meet the salary threshold.”
The social care sector needs 128,000 new care workers every year and faces a shortage of over half a million workers over the next decade. There are similar shortages in the health sector.
“To remove access to staff from overseas without any coherent plan to recruit more UK staff to the sector is staggeringly short-sighted and could leave parts of the sector unable to find enough staff to continuing providing vital services to the most vulnerable in society,” says James Sage.
“We would urge the Government to re-consider a visa exemption for social care staff as it has done for seasonal workers within the agricultural industry. It should then immediately start work on an effective strategy for recruiting more UK staff to work in the sector to address the existing workforce crisis.
“If the Government wants to achieve its aim of driving up pay rates to attract more UK staff, and reduce reliance on EU staff, it will need to substantially increase funding to the sector.”
James Sage can be reached on 01225 730231 or 07508 297597.