Experts decry ‘lack of consideration’ given to social care in immigration reform

By William Eichler | 19 February 2020

Experts have warned that the Government’s introduction of a points-based immigration system could be detrimental to an already-struggling social care system.

Home secretary Priti Patel today launched a new Australian-style points-based immigration system, which is expected to take effect from 2021.

The new system will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions, with visas only be awarded to those who gain enough points.

All applicants will be required to have a job offer and, in line with the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations, the minimum salary threshold will be £25,600.

The new policy has caused concern over the future of the social care system because care roles fall below the salary threshold and the system already faces acute staffing shortages.

Think-tank The Nuffield Trust has estimated that the UK needs 90,000 more social care workers to meet demand.

The trust's chief economist, John Appleby, said: ‘Migration has been a crucial safety valve for crisis-stricken social care services, with workers from overseas filling vital roles helping people with basic tasks like washing, dressing and personal hygiene.'

Director of leadership and organisational development at The King’s Fund think-tank, Suzie Bailey, said there had been a 'disappointing lack of consideration given to social care’.

She continued: ‘In the absence of supportive immigration policies, the social care sector would need to significantly improve care worker pay and conditions to attract more home-grown staff.

‘That will require an immediate funding boost, a comprehensive plan for sustainable staffing and for the Prime Minister to deliver on his commitment to fix social care once and for all.’

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