Stark warning for the care sector as freedom of movement ends

Stark warning for the care sector as freedom of movement ends

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has warned that the end of freedom of movement after Brexit will increase pressure on the social care sector, and that there will be “stark consequences” unless jobs are made more attractive to UK workers by increasing salaries.

The MAC, which provides independent, evidence-based advice on migration issues to the Government, was commissioned to consider what medium-skill occupations should be included ahead of the introduction of a points-based immigration system on 1st January 2021. Senior care workers and nursing assistants are among healthcare roles that the MAC has now added to the ‘shortage occupation list’, to help relieve pressure when freedom of movements ends, but most frontline social care roles are ineligible for the post-Brexit skilled worker immigration route, and aren’t on the official list for job shortages in the UK.

MAC Chair, Professor Brian Bell said:

“The number of migrants coming to work in the UK has already decreased and we are likely to see an increase in unemployment over the next year as the economic impact of the pandemic continues …. it has made us more willing to recommend some roles for inclusion simply because it is the sensible thing to do, but we have been clear that migration is not always the solution. We remain particularly concerned about the social care sector, which is so central to the frontline response to this health pandemic, as it will struggle to recruit the necessary staff if wages do not increase as a matter of urgency.”

The full MAC report can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/news/migration-advisory-committee-reviews-shortage-occupation-lists

SIA’s Founder, Baroness Masham, has again raised her grave concerns about this issue in the House of Lords this week, stating:

“I hope that the Government will realise that we are now in a social care crisis and that we should face up to the challenges now. There is a serious shortage of live-in carers to help disabled people, due to the combination of Coronavirus and Brexit. Good social care takes the pressure off the NHS. Many elderly and disabled people are at serious risk because they have had their benefits cut. Coupled with shrinking local authority budgets, the workforce is under pressure exactly when it is needed most. Also, the vast proportion of migrant employees in social care will be ineligible to work in the UK, as most care workers’ earnings do not meet the threshold for the new skilled visa, as has been mentioned several times.”

SIA are very concerned that a combination of the ending of free movement after Brexit, existing staff shortages, high staff turnover and low wages could lead to a devastating crisis in the social care sector, at a time when it’s already under enormous pressure due to the impact of the pandemic. We believe it’s vital that frontline social care roles are designated as ‘key workers’, as this ensures migrant workers coming here to work in the social care sector can follow the skilled worker immigration route, and will therefore be eligible to live and work in the UK.

If you are concerned about the future availability of carers, or are directly affected by the end of freedom of movement after Brexit, SIA really want to hear from you.  Please get in touch via [email protected]