The care sector will be amongst the sectors hardest hit by new immigration policies to be introduced by the government in January, a think tank has found.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says almost 80% of EU social care workers would have been unable to migrate under the new rules.
Marley Morris, IPPR Associate Director for Immigration, Trade and EU Relations, said: “We are now weeks away from one of the greatest changes to our immigration system in decades. Our research finds that sectors such as social care and construction could face increasing skills shortages as a result of the coming changes. As our care system struggles and businesses reel from the effects of the pandemic, it is vital that the new points-based system helps to support the country’s response to coronavirus and the economic recovery.”
The report, which is backed by Care England and other organisations, argues the government’s decision to not immediately adopt its own Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to add senior care workers to the shortage occupation list will further exacerbate the recruitment crisis in the sector, which has more than 100,000 vacancies.
The IPPR makes a number of recommendations, including extending the shortage occupation list to all skills levels and replacing the £25,600 salary threshold with a commitment from employers to pay the living wage to bring the immigration system in line with the labour market, while preventing undercutting.
It also argues for additional points in in the point based system for employers who offer secure work with minimum contracted hours and who invest in skills and training, and calls for the requirement of employers to tackle exploitation.
A government spokesperson said: “We are delivering a firmer, fairer, points-based immigration system from January 2021, based on what people have to offer, rather than where their passport is issued.
“We’re supporting the social care sector in a number of ways, including more funding and a national recruitment campaign, but we want employers to focus on investing in our domestic workforce.
“As we look to the future, we must be realistic about the effect coronavirus has had on the labour market and our economy, and we know an increased number of people across the UK are looking for work. It is important that we focus on the resident labour market at this time.”
Commenting on the brief, Colin Angel, policy director at United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) said: “Government has recently rejected the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations about the Shortage Occupation List, at least for the foreseeable future. Although the shortage list would have had limited application for many social care employers, some would have found it extremely helpful in sourcing candidates from outside the UK for hard-to-fill roles, including live-in homecare.
“From January 2021, social care employers face a sudden restriction requiring them to recruit from the domestic workforce. The recommendations from IPPR are an important contribution to how the UK’s migration system could work more effectively in sectors which are known to face recruitment challenges. Government needs to consider the recommendations thoroughly.”