In her blog this week our CEO discusses the impact of the recent immigration changes

In her blog this week our CEO discusses the impact of the recent immigration changes

The Government has now released the details of their new ‘points-based’ Immigration System which will be introduced once we leave the EU. There will be no route for ‘unskilled’ posts – there are no opportunities for lower-paid roles (the absolute minimum salary must be £20,480), the skill level must be A-Level or higher and candidates must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor. Even meeting all the core conditions will only earn 50 points and candidates must achieve 70 to be eligible (through higher salary, staff shortages and PhDs). These requirements, coupled with prohibitive fees, make this an almost impossible threshold to meet.

The care sector is conspicuously absent from the specialist ‘Health and Care Visa’ route and the impact on the sector can hardly be overstated. Access to the EU workforce will be gone and only those in the country on other grounds (e.g. as a spouse) will be eligible to join the care workforce. It has already been acknowledged by the Government that there are approximately 120,000 vacancies in social care (representing almost 10% of jobs) and that about 17% of the care workforce is comprised of citizens from outside of the UK.

It is hard not to feel that this is another example of how underappreciated and unacknowledged the diverse workforce is that has sustained our social care sector for years. This is particularly distasteful given the widely reported contribution of EU and international citizens to the UK health and social care workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. How our sector will function once these changes have been implemented is uncertain as currently there is no clear guidance or contingency planning to manage the loss of EU and international workers.

We have seen these types of plans before, ones that feel impulsive and ill-considered. For example, the Windrush Scandal. We are shocked that a generation that had come to Britain from the Caribbean to enable us to run essential services following the war were being criminalised as part of the ‘hostile environment policy’ implemented by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary. The cruel reality of the personal impact of these policies was really brought home by the ‘Sitting in Limbo’ factual TV Drama released this year on BBC One. It made for distressing watching as Anthony was fired, forcibly removed from his home, twice detained in an immigration centre and left financially destitute and potentially stateless. Even had Anthony not had the legal right to remain, his treatment would have been unacceptably harsh. The criminalisation and harsh treatment of those seeking asylum, particularly in the current climate, is an additional source of trauma for those who may have already been victims of abuse in their home country.

Once we leave the EU there will need to be significant changes to the Country and particularly the care sector as it strives to continue to keep vulnerable adults safe. We have no choice but to wait and see what, if anything, the government has planned. However, we add our voice to those arguing that Black Lives Matter and in favour of a more humane and effective approach to managing immigration and meeting our workforce needs.