Don’t tinker with ‘lifeline’ overseas worker recruitment

The Independent Care Group is urging the Government not to make changes to the rules on employing overseas workers because they are providing a lifeline.

There are reports that the Government is considering banning or limiting overseas workers from bringing dependents with them to the UK.

There are also reports that the Government is looking at increasing the salary threshold for workers’ visas, which might prevent some social care posts meeting the criteria.

The ICG is urging the Government not to alter the system at “a very delicate time”.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “This would be the worst possible time to make it harder for social care providers to recruit from overseas.

“Restricting dependents would undoubtedly put many people off from coming to our country and given the current financial hardships in social care, raising the salary threshold would mean many posts in the sector would not be eligible.

“Care providers fought long and hard to get access to visas so that overseas workers could come and help us ease the chronic shortage of care workers that has been devastating the delivery of care.

“If there has been abuse of the system then that cannot be condoned and should be addressed. But the vast majority of social care providers have adhered to the rules and found overseas recruitment a lifeline.

“I know from my own experience and that of fellow providers that we could not fill our shifts without them at the moment. It would be an absolute disaster if overseas recruitment were to be hampered or reduced and the care of the most vulnerable would suffer.”

“NHS care delivery is already being hampered by a lack of available social care. If this went ahead then the NHS would be impacted upon too.”

The ICG says long standing underfunding of the sector, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, has left the sector in its worst ever staffing crisis.

Providers fought to get the Government to allow care workers to get visas to come to the country to try to alleviate a staffing crisis which has led to 152,000 vacant posts.

“Social care provision is on its knees,” Mr Padgham added. “The last thing we need is someone cutting the lifeline of overseas workers that we have been thrown.

“Long term, we have to find a way to get more people – from this country and from overseas – into the social care sector and that should be the Government’s real priority not hampering us from functioning today.

“They need to reform social care and give the sector parity with the NHS. They must properly fund the delivery of care so that we can give social care workers the pay, terms and conditions they deserve and that match those of their counterparts at the NHS.

“Then we might see a reduction in the workforce shortage that is threatening proper, safe care delivery.

“Until the Government wakes up and delivers on that long overdue promise, we will need all the help we can get to keep providing care and not unwanted change.”