Ministers urged to ditch ‘catastrophic’ plans for migrant care workers

New visa rules will undermine care services for families – report.

Ministers urged to ditch ‘catastrophic’ plans for migrant care workers iStock

The Government has been warned that its ban on overseas care staff bringing dependants to the UK is “catastrophic”.

Unison and the National Care Forum urged ministers to ditch the plan, saying it will undermine care services for millions of families.

In a letter to Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins, the two organisations said: “These announcements appear to have been made without proper planning, consultation or information, resulting in ministers giving contradictory and confusing explanations.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly is criticised in the letter over his comments that overseas staff are displacing UK workers from care jobs.

The letter states: “This attempt to justify the visa policy is patently untrue.”

The letter states: “Migrant care workers face Christmas in limbo, worrying about what will happen to their families when they renew their visas or change employers.

“Many are already expressing regret about coming to the UK and making plans to move to more welcoming parts of the world.

“The social care sector simply couldn’t function without overseas staff.

“Its workforce has always contained a sizeable proportion of people from beyond the UK.

“Recruiting from other countries has been actively encouraged by the Government too.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The care sector will grind to a halt without staff from overseas.

“Next year’s rise in the minimum wage might help a little but pay rates in care will have to increase significantly for the sector’s recruitment crisis to ease.

“The Government’s draconian policies risk driving migrant care workers away.

“Overseas carers have been treated appallingly by ministers.

“Many sold everything to fund their move to the UK.

“Now migrants are essentially being told they’re no longer welcome.

“To make matters worse, all this happened without a word to anyone in the care sector.

“Social care requires a major fix, but this is certainly not it.

“Without migrant staff, care homes could close and support disappear for the vulnerable living in their own homes.

“Ministers must rethink this cruel visa plan before permanent damage is done.”

Professor Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, which represents care and support services, added: “Singling out care workers for restrictions on bringing dependents into the UK seems unfair on international care workers.

“It’s also counterintuitive in a climate where workforce shortage is recognised as the primary stumbling block to the delivery of an integrated health and care system.”

Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board said: “International recruits have helped care providers manage workforce capacity and make a valued contribution to the sector.

“The LGA agrees that a long term solution must seek to grow the domestic workforce.

“To do this the issue of low care worker pay has to be addressed, career pathways have to be developed and training and development offers need to be improved to raise the status of people working in these vital roles.

“In the meantime international recruits are vital to the sustainability of many providers and if new measures lead to a significant reduction this will exacerbate pressure on the sector.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We continue to face unprecedented levels of immigration since the pandemic, which is why the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have announced a plan to curb abuse of the system and deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration.

“This plan will ensure we can strike the right balance between ethical international recruitment, continuing to bring in workers that our care sector and NHS need, while also supporting our homegrown care workforce by providing councils with almost £2 billion over two years.”

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