The government has been urged to revise the draft Immigration Bill to recognise people working in adult social care as highly skilled professionals.
In a letter to the First Secretary of State, Dominic Raab, ADASS president Julie Ogley called for the Bill, which defines skilled workers as those earning £25,600 or more, to reflect the “true value and status” of care workers.
She said the response to the Covid-19 outbreak has underlined the “pivotal role” that colleagues in social care play in our communities.
“Their skills, dedication and devotion underpin the care, protection and certainty they are providing for so many of us during these difficult times. Covid-19 has given us all a clear sense of who the essential workers are and what types of skills we all value,” Ogley added.
“That is why we are calling on the government to revise the draft Immigration Bill so that the notion of what constitutes a ‘skilled worker’ is based on what they do, the skills they bring and the difference they make, not the salaries they are paid.
“It is important that we collectively recognise and value the skills and dedication of our brilliant social care workforce.”
In February, social care leaders responded in “dismay” to the immigration rules, warning that they will “spell disaster” for the sector.
The new points-based system – set to be introduced from January 2021 – is intended to end dependence on “cheap labour from Europe”, the government said.
The system will deny visas to so-called “low-skilled” workers and the salary threshold for migrants will be set at £25,600.
Those coming to the UK must also already have a job offer and be able to speak English.
Social care professionals labelled the proposals as “irresponsible”, warning that they will exacerbate workforce shortages in the sector.
“Cutting off the supply of prospective careworkers under a new migration system, will pave the way for more people waiting unnecessarily in hospital or going without care,” a spokesperson for the United Kingdom Homecare Association said at the time.
“Telling employers to adjust, in a grossly underfunded care system, is simply irresponsible.”