A large number of EU care workers have not secured settled status, with the deadline looming
Five of the UK’s main care representatives are warning that EU care workers are at risk of criminalisation and have called for the settlement scheme to be extended.
The Care Workers Charity has joined with four of the UK’s main care representatives writing to the Prime Minister to warn that EU care workers are at risk of losing their legal status and rights in just one week’s time on the EU Settlement Scheme deadline of 30 June.
Other signatories include Care England, National Care Association, Scottish Care and the Institute of Health and Social Care Management, representing hundreds of care providers and thousands of care workers in all parts of the UK, from countries all over the world.
Traditionally considered an ‘unskilled and undervalued workforce’, signatories write that the pandemic ‘has shone a light on the vital role care workers play in keeping this country going’. Yet now they stand to lose everything in just under three weeks. Signatories are calling on the government to lift the EUSS deadline or offer EU care workers an exemption to avoid criminalisation of EU care workers and their employers.
Caitlin Boswell, project officer (EU citizens’ rights) at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said:
“In less than two weeks the EUSS deadline will force tens of thousands of EU citizens out of status and into the hostile environment. EU citizens who miss the deadline will lose the right to rent, access free healthcare and could be criminalised for working. EU care workers and other key workers – the very people we have relied on over the past year – are in real danger of slipping through the cracks in the scheme. Significant numbers of EU care workers falling out of status will devastate the care industry in the middle of a pandemic. It’s more urgent than ever that the government acts now to lift the EUSS deadline.”
Research from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants found that one in seven EU care workers surveyed online did not know or were not sure what the EUSS was, and one in three did not know there was a deadline or were not sure when it was.
Signatories are also concerned that care workers will not meet the threshold for late applications to the EUSS. They write that even in cases where the guidance provides a route back to status, this is not a solution to making people undocumented.
Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of The Care Workers’ Charity, said: “The Care Workers’ Charity is extremely concerned about the impact of the immigration policy on the social care workforce- there are already huge staff shortages in the sector, and the additional shortages caused directly by this policy will have a devastating impact of on the wellbeing of existing care teams, and on the quality of care provided. It is therefore urgent and necessary for the policy to be changed.”
The letter urges Prime Minister to consider the future of the care sector which is at stake without immediate action. The UK’s adult social care sector relies heavily on its migrant workforce yet currently has a shortfall of 120,000 vacancies. Signatories write that ‘the pandemic has shown that to simply rely on a domestic workforce is no more than a wishful fantasy.’