Will the new points-based immigration system lead to a care crisis?
The Home Office’s new points-based system (PBS) will apply from 1st January 2021. From this date, free movement for nationals of the European Economic Area and Switzerland will end. The points-based system has attracted some criticism, notably the exclusion of care home staff and those providing home care within a sector which has already seen huge workforce shortages.
Main entry route restricted
A health and care visa will provide a route for key health professionals to work in the UK.
This will apply to individuals working in eligible health occupations with a job offer from the NHS; social care sector; or employers and organisations which provide services to the NHS. The limited roles eligible for this route mean that such plans will cut off entry to care workers, due to being restricted on the grounds of salary, qualifications. defined skill level and domestic shortages.
The new regulations will mean that a minimum pay threshold of £20,480 has to be met, which effectively prevents migrant care works and home carers from entering the UK, as average pay for care workers being £16,500 a year. This means that care workers will not meet the required eligibility for visas, regardless as to whether they can accrue transferable points.
For the past decade, approximately one in six – or 83,000 – of the 1.5m home care and care workers in England have been non-UK nationals. This means that the UK is at risk of losing the highly skilled and experienced migrant works that are currently holding up the care sector if the government doesn’t make any changes to the new system.
Looking to the future
So, what does the future hold for the care industry post-brexit? This winter is already looking to be the most challenging winter in recent history for health and social care, and such implications has the potential to destabilise the sector even further.
Social care workers from across the globe don’t just keep our services going, they make them diverse, good quality and personal to the people they serve. We need more not less. Perhaps the future lies in balancing the two; raising both the attractiveness of working in care for UK born workers whilst encouraging migrant labour to meet future social care workforce needs.
Nevertheless, the reality is that huge proportions of the UK community continue to rely wholly on these un-cared for workers, and the clock continues to tick for both businesses and people to get this right and the UK back to full strength after this economic crisis.