The government must keep the country open to EU carers following Brexit to avoid a worsening of the social care crisis, Age UK has warned.
The charity urged the government to put measures in place to ensure EU nationals continue to come to the UK following the Brexit deadline at the end of March.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The social care workforce is already struggling but if, after a UK withdrawal, we shut the door on staff from the EU we’ll make a bad situation even worse.”
EU nationals currently account for 104,000 of the social care workforce with most concentrated in London and the south.
Rules recommended by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee would classify carers as ‘low skilled EU workers’ meaning they would not get preferential access to the UK.
Caroline added: “We think this is a huge mistake. Care workers are low paid, but not low skilled. And our care workforce is in no position to withstand the loss of good, willing care workers, wherever they come from.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “As the Home Secretary has said, EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society and we want them to stay.
“The social care sector is vital to the UK and our future immigration system will ensure that we have access to the skills and talents we need after the UK leaves the EU.
“As part of this, we are considering whether a lower salary threshold should apply for some roles in shortage. This is already in place for nurses, paramedics and some teaching and social care roles in short supply.
“The new skills-based immigration system will be implemented from 2021 following an extensive 12-month programme of engagement with businesses and stakeholders, including the social care sector across the UK and the EU and international partners.”