The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) says the future availability of workers will continue to be the number one issue facing the sector as Britain enters an 11-month transition period following its exit from the EU.
Around 18% of people in the home care workforce are from outside the UK and, while little will change for home care providers during the transition period, the association says that providers need to factor it into their planning.
Writing on the official UKHCA blog, policy director Colin Angel said: “UKHCA recommends that homecare providers continue to encourage members of their workforce (and their families) who are eligible to join the EU Settlement Scheme to do so.
“This will give them either ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status, depending on whether a person has five years’ continuous residence in the UK. Those who receive ‘pre-settled’ status will usually be able to gain ‘settled status’ once they have met the qualifying period. Employers should ensure they understand how the scheme operates and make support available to workers who may need it in order to apply.”
The UKHCA noted that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) made recommendations to the government last week on a number of issues, including the development of a points-based system, similar to that operating in Australia.
“If government follows MAC’s advice without making any specific arrangements for social care employers, such as adding social care workers to a shortage occupation list, or rewarding additional points for non-British nationals joining the social care workforce, it is unlikely the majority of homecare providers would be able to actively recruit front-line workers from outside the United Kingdom under a ‘points-based’ system,” said Mr Angel.
“As things stand at the moment, homecare providers should assume that at the end of the transition period they will need to recruit from people in the UK’s resident labour market. We know this is already difficult and the competition for workers from the domestic workforce will increase.”
MAC has told government that the solution to the recruitment problems in social care will not be solved by migration policy, but by finding a solution to the funding of care.
“Whether one agrees with MAC’s conclusions or not, homecare providers need to ensure that they can offer terms and conditions of employment (including, but not limited to, pay), which will enable them to compete effectively in their local labour market. This is challenging for everyone, but particularly those providers which are heavily dependent on state-funded purchase,” added Mr Angel.