The Home Office has rejected recommendations by its migration committee to open UK borders to foreign senior care workers at the end of the Brexit transition period.
The Migration Advisory Committee recommended last month that senior care workers and registered managers should be placed on the Shortage Occupation List.
In its review of the SOL, it also warned of “stark consequences” of low wages in social care – and if more funding is not announced in a “timely manner” then pressure will ramp up on the sector.
However, it resisted recommending that care workers should be added to the list and instead called for jobs within the sector to be made more attractive to UK workers by increasing salaries rather than relying on migrants.
In a letter to the MAC, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she would not follow the guidance of the review that she commissioned earlier in the year. Instead, she said she would wait to assess the combined impact of both the coronavirus and the new immigration rules.
“Before making any changes to the SOLs, we believe it is right to pause and assess how the UK labour market develops and how quickly recovery is evidenced post-Covid 19 and in response to the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System, in terms of overall numbers, understanding migrant and employer behaviours, and where incoming migrants go (both geographically and by sector),” she said.
Patel added that the Home Office intends to continue scrutinising the recommendations to ensure its approach to applying them aligns with the UK labour market.
She added: “We intend to continue scrutinising the recommendations to ensure our approach to applying them aligns with the UK labour market, and will consider whether to implement some or all of them in a forthcoming set of changes to the Immigration Rules in 2021.
Reacting to the news, Colin Angel, policy director at United Kingdom Homecare Association, said: “It is extremely disappointing to hear government reject the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee, at least for the foreseeable future.
“Although the proposed expansion of the Shortage Occupation 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 home care.
“Government has now sent a clear message to employers that they must recruit from the domestic workforce. For local councils, who buy the majority of social care services, this highlights the importance of adequate fees which will enable their subcontractors to offer competitive terms and conditions of employment.”