The UK is “sleepwalking towards the biggest social care crisis in decades” as Brexit enforces tighter visa rules for European workers, the director of a national live-in care provider has said.
Paula Beaney, quality assurance director at Promedica24, fears the new immigration policy will escalate the costs of care services amid the biggest economic downturn the UK has experienced in 300 years.
Over the last six months, Promedica24 has campaigned to encourage the government to reverse its decision to ban EU migrant workers earning less than £25,600 from obtaining a work visa in the care sector.
After receiving a letter from the care provider in August, Nigel Evans, Second Deputy Speaker and Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel, urging her to comment on concerns that the workforce shortage would lead to an increase in the cost of care.
He said the new immigration rules would mean that many migrant care workers would be unable to meet the A-Level standard required to work in the UK, despite having “extensive care experience and specialised training”, and this would “greatly impact” care providers and, by extension, the people who need care.
But the government had stood firm on its decision to deny visas to migrant social care workers and rejected repeated calls to add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List.
Beaney commented: “It is hard to understand the government’s motives and why it remains so adamant on its immigration policies for the care sector. The reality is that in a few weeks, vulnerable people may be unable to source or afford vital care services and ultimately, will be left alienated and without the support they so desperately need.
“Limiting the freedom to employ foreign workers will ultimately lead to increased prices of care services – the last thing that vulnerable people need during the time of the biggest economic recession since the records began.”
Beaney said the government’s message to employers that they must attract a domestic workforce is “unrealistic” and shows a “significant lack of understanding of the profession”.
“It takes a special type of person with a certain personality traits, experience and lengthy training to be able to adequately secure the physical and emotional needs of those most vulnerable, such as people living with dementia, Parkinson’s, mental or mobility impairments, and various forms of cancer,” she added.
“Even now, with still-open borders and unrestricted European immigration, the care sector is facing significant workforce shortages that have not been filled either by the UK or EU workers. Unfortunately, the future of the care sector and the people who rely on its support to live in dignified and safe conditions is likely to become much more challenging.”