European care workers must be allowed to be recruited in the UK no matter what happens with Brexit, a charity has warned
The recruitment of European care workers in the UK must continue regardless of what happens with Brexit, a charity has said.
Age UK has warned that vacancies in the sector will continue to rise unless EU staff are allowed to work in Britain.
There are more than 100,000 vacancies across the care sector in the UK – and a recent report from the Care Inspectorate and the social services regulator Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) revealed 38% of services in Scotland have staff vacancies.
Age UK has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying EU carers must be exempt from proposed new rules that say low-skilled EU workers should no longer have preferential access to the UK. The charity is concerned that migration policies could prevent care workers from being allowed to enter, due to low levels of pay in the sector.
Last year, the Migration Advisory Committee said high-skilled workers made a positive contribution to the public finances.
It recommended a policy allowing greater access for higher-skilled migration while restricting access for lower-skilled workers, such as those earning less than £30,000.
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.
“Care work is low paid, not low-skilled, so it is quite wrong that it is being caught by the new rules proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee.
“The government should recognise this and allow EU nationals to continue to come and work as paid carers.”
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.”
Calls for an independent evaluation of the effect Brexit will have on health and social care have received backing from almost 100 organisations.
Brendan O’Hara MP introduced a private member’s bill calling for an independent review of Brexit’s impact on health and social care at the House of Commons in November.
This was in response to concerns raised by the third sector, led by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland and Camphill Scotland.