UK CARE

Social Care Set to Buckle If Post-Brexit Immigration Plans Go Ahead

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) finally unveiled its review into the proposed post-Brexit immigration rules earlier this week, and the results have since been met with mixed and rather polarised responses.

While Migration Watch UK (MWUK) and Conservative Woman immediately launched a scathing attack onto the MAC’s assessment, both often backing the other in total dismay of the proposals put forward, businesses and leading industries all across the UK breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The MAC’s review overwhelmingly points to suggest the current salary requirement of £30,000 for a Tier 2 Work Visa is ill-fitted to the wider needs of the country and the economy, most of all because not even Britons earn this much in life-line sectors such as healthcare and education. While MWUK & co boil over at the meek suggestion of a £25,600 minimum income requirement instead, they are so blind with rage over border control that they are forgetting that the needs of the country, the people and the economy must come first.

Care work in the UK is already stretched to its limit. [Shutterstock/Homecare]

Each industry in the UK should have a stake in the immigration rules, or else the Government risks imposing blanket restrictions that could strangle some sectors dry. It is painfully obvious to all of those who work first-hand in immigration that draping red tape around the perimeters of the country will leave our tiny island and its inhabitants worse off.

Each industry in the UK should have a stake in the immigration rules, or else the Government risks imposing blanket restrictions that could strangle some sectors dry

A key example of this would be the fall of UK social care. According to the MAC, whose analysis goes on to inform and sculpt the government’s immigration plans, the replacement of Free Movement with inflexible visa requirements would see the social care workforce axed by 2.9 per cent. The MAC is concerned that as potential staff members are barricaded out from alleviating the workforce’s existing problems, the demand for care will only hike. An ageing population coupled with the Home Office’s failure to address social care needs is already causing severe stress on both patients and staff – and that’s before the rules come into effect.

Although the MAC report notes that care has bigger issues at play such as a lack of funding and poor wages, the changes proposed in the the UK Government’s 2018 White Paper would exacerbate its conditions.

However, others claim the £4,400 shaved off the boundary still won’t meet the needs of the care sector. UNISON assistant general secretary, Christina McAnea, said it “won’t allow a single care worker to come to the UK” while the Vice President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, James Bullion, said that the salary thresholds are “largely meaningless in a sector where over a third earn the national living wage.”

It cannot be that as the UK steps into unfounded territory of sovereignty that the Government at the helm continues to cower and bend its knee to small-minded and ill-advised fanatics

One potential loophole in the rules would be a temporary and relaxed 12-month work placement which would cater to industries that relied on lower-paid staff, including the likes of care, hospitality and retail. However, this could be disruptive for the health and care sectors since not only does training new staff take significant time at a hefty cost, but could have a wider impact on elderly patients in receipt of care. Those in care homes, for example, prefer familiarity and take comfort in the reliable faces that they see everyday. New staff being injected into the sector every 6-12 months through a revolving door will inevitably cause distress to those vulnerable patients.

The sector fears the loss of Free Movement will aggravate its existing workforce shortages. [Image: Community Care].

Draping red tape around the perimeters of the country will leave our tiny island and its inhabitants worse off.

Alternatively, the Government could consider featuring the care sector on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List which would encourage migrant talent to take up a placement in the UK by the pull of a discounted visa. But even still, the recently hiked and compulsory up-front fee known as the Immigration Health Surcharge, now costing £625 per year, undermines any marginal discounts that are being saved.

There is clearly lots to be done following the MAC’s latest bombshell, and it would do the Government some good to take a step back and realistically listen to the suggestions. It cannot be that as the UK steps into unfounded territory of sovereignty that the Government at the helm continues to cower and bend its knee to small-minded and ill-advised fanatics that call for an immigration plan that costs the welfare of the country to deteriorate.

But can we trust the Tories to take on this uncharacteristically pragmatic approach?

No matter what the anti-migrant lobbyists say, it is integral that the Government shows some backbone and takes charge of the rules to ensure businesses and migrant-heavy sectors can not only continue to access and recruit talent, but to actively encourage workers and their families to come to the UK. Now that Brexiteers have had their victorious day, the Home Office has a moral responsibility to clean up the mess and quash the raging fires of pent-up racist angst that has dominated in the country since the 2016 EU referendum.

It could very well be that the outcome of Brexit is a far fairer and encouraging immigration system than the one already in place – but can we trust the Tories to take on this uncharacteristically pragmatic approach? Only time will tell.

[Header image: Doug Maloney, Unsplash].

Written by
Olivia Bridge
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