A ‘perfect storm’: a restrictive immigration policy and the adult social care sector

Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, has written to the Home Secretary asking her to reconsider future immigration plans. This follows the Government’s rejection of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MACs) Shortage Occupation List (SOL) recommendations published last week. It says that the adult social care sector is “already afflicted by a workforce crisis” as a result of the pandemic and these plans have the potential to further exacerbate the pressures on the sector. The letter also takes issue with the planned points-based immigration system which Care England explains does not provide sufficient routes for adult social care works to enter the UK.

In a new report published this week from independent think tank, IPPR it found that ending the free movement of EU citizens poses “deep challenges” for a number of sectors, including social care and that the new restrictions could inhibit recruitment in the sector.

While Care England welcomes many of the Government reforms to the immigration system next year, including the lowering of the skills threshold for the skilled worker route and the streamlining of the sponsorship system, it believes that reforms to the new system need to go further in line with IPPR recommendations which they summarise in four key areas:

  • Extending the shortage occupation list to allow for the inclusion of jobs at all skill levels, reflecting the fact that skills shortages can exist in any part of the labour market.
  • Following the Migration Advisory Committee's advice to immediately add new occupations to the shortage occupation list in time for the introduction of the new system, in order to address existing skills shortages in sectors critical to the pandemic response.
  • Reducing the salary threshold of £25,600 to the living wage (i.e. £19,344 annual salary for a 40 hour week), which will bring the immigration system in line with labour market needs while preventing undercutting.
  • Exempting employers from the immigration skills charge if they can demonstrate to the Home Office that they are investing in skills and training, in order to reward employers who are training up the next generation of workers.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised, or how to navigate the new immigration landscape, do get in touch – we have a friendly and expert immigration team.

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