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Immigration system proposals would prompt further crisis in social care, leaders say

Social care leaders have reacted with dismay to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on a new points-based immigration system.

The Home Secretary asked the government’s official migration policy advisers to review the Australian immigration system to “advise on what best practice can be used to strengthen the UK labour market and attract the best and brightest from around the world”.

But in its 271-page report, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) does not back an Australian-points based system.

Rather, it recommends a mixed system, which would rely on a minimum salary threshold for those people coming to the UK with a job offer and a points-based system for skilled workers coming to the UK without an arranged job.

Currently the main way in to the UK for non-EU migrants requires them to have a job.

The Mac recommends cutting the salary threshold for skilled migrants from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer.

Simon Bottery, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said: “One in six staff working in adult social care in England have a non-British nationality. These workers are crucial for the viability of social care services which are struggling to cope with approximately 122,000 vacancies at any one time.

“By prioritising higher-paid workers, a points-based visa system would effectively shut the door to thousands of people who are desperately needed to shore up the social care workforce.

“In doing so, the Committee has batted the social care staffing problem back to government, challenging the government to improve care worker pay and conditions so more home-grown staff are attracted to the roles.”

The recommendations could however make it easier for teachers, NHS employees and people at the start of their careers to qualify. The committee recommends higher thresholds for more highly paid occupations.

Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow Natasha Curry said: “NHS leaders will be relieved that these MAC proposals would not greatly worsen the difficult staffing situation they face – but the changes would be a disaster for social care unless a new sector-specific route is added.

“The skilled worker route laid out would mean nurses and other health professionals could still come in on a health service salary. Some categories of staff, including senior social care workers, would benefit from the cut in general salary thresholds to £25,600.

“However, EEA migrants in the service and the trusts who employ them will now face the same hefty fees as those from elsewhere, which can only be a deterrent.

“On their own, these proposals would make it almost impossible for people to migrate to work in most frontline social care jobs.”

The MAC recommendations are a response to the Home Secretary’s commission into a points-based system and salary thresholds for immigration.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was keen to say MAC is “advisory”, suggesting the Government may choose an alternative points-based system.

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