The new Minister of Care, Helen Whately, has come under fire after advising social care employers to “redouble” their efforts to recruit from the UK ahead of immigration changes.
The backlash came over the Minister’s response to Tory MP, Sir Roger Gale’s question over Government plans to tackle shortages in the sector due to changes in immigration policy.
The government announced last month that it would be adopting an Australian-style immigrants points system, under which foreign nationals are likely to struggle to gain visas for so-called ‘low-skilled’ social care work.
Responding to Gale, Whately said: “We are continually monitoring and analysing the impact on both cost and numbers of staff in the National Health Service and social care sector as a result of multiple changes, including the future immigration system.
“The changes to the immigration system and the ending of freedom of movement will mean that social care employers will need to redouble efforts to promote jobs in social care to workers in the United Kingdom.”
Gale countered that care homes were closing at an “alarming rate” and people could not be press ganged into working in the sector.
Executive chair of the National Care Association, Nadra Ahmed, told the BBC that social care providers already focused primarily on recruiting from the local area.
Ahmed compared steps taken by the government to recruit additional low-skilled farm workers with its inaction on social care. “We can’t let our fruit rot in the fields but we’re alright to let older people struggle to receive the care they need,” she noted.
Leaders in social care also responded to Whately’s comments on Twitter.
UKHCA chief executive Jane Townson said: “It’s not lack of effort going into recruitment in the care sector that’s the problem @Helen_Whately. It’s inadequate T&Cs of employment, driven by inadequate funding, for challenging roles requiring multiple skills – social, clinical, technological, operational, commercial.”
The Good Care Group managing director Dominique Kent added: “Why do you think we recruit overseas? Because despite significant investment in recruitment and our market leading selection tools, we still need more people who want to care for the right reasons @Helen_Whately we need to change the care narrative.”