Hospital Dr News

Social care facing staffing crisis over Immigration Bill

Social care is facing a staffing crisis due to the Government’s Immigration Bill.

The Immigration Bill, which has been given initial approval by MPs, repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces a new framework for who can come to live in the UK.

It also paves the way for the government to introduce a new points-based system.

A coalition of national care organisations say the points-based system currently does not include social care as the roles do not pass the proposed minimum salary threshold and “are not classed as a shortage occupation”.

It would not allow enough overseas workers to be recruited, experts warn.

The government said care providers should recruit from the domestic labour market and not seek to employ immigrants.

The legislation will put EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens on an equal footing to immigrants from outside the bloc.

One in six workers in the sector is a foreign national and earn on average between £16,400 and £18,400 in England, says the Cavendish Coalition.

But from next January, under the new bill, foreign workers will have to be on a minimum of £25,000 to be allowed in to the UK.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “We are facing the risk of a staffing blackhole in social care, with one in five health and care workers having said they are likely to leave their roles after the pandemic. A solution is urgently needed.

“It is critical that the Government ensures a transitional solution is in place for social care that supports international recruitment from January 2021 to navigate the gap between the introduction of the new immigration system and a longer-term plan and funding settlement for social care in England.

“The tone of this announcement is welcome, but we have yet to find out when the visa will be launched, and staff and employers also await the details of how the health surcharge exemption will work.”

Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, said: “By shutting out overseas staff, the government has increased the pressure on itself to urgently develop and fund reforms that make the care sector a better-paid and more attractive place to develop a career.

“This will require an unprecedented pace and scale of investment, and even then workforce shortages are likely to get worse before they get better as new immigration rules will come into force before reforms can realistically be implemented.”

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