Our letter to Miriam Cates MP on the immigration issue

Dear Miriam,

I heard with interest the interview you and your colleagues gave on Monday on the issue of overseas recruitment to help in the delivery of social care in the UK.

I wondered in the light of those interviews and the suggestions you have made to the Government about ending that recruitment whether we could meet to discuss the subject.

I feel such a meeting – which could be at Westminster or here in North Yorkshire – would be advantageous as I feel there are many aspects to this that need to be addressed.

In short, the social care staffing shortage goes back many years and is down to government after government failing to properly fund social care so that providers like ourselves can afford to pay them properly and recruit successfully.

As you will be aware, the pandemic and its aftermath further exacerbated staffing shortages across many sectors and social care was particularly badly hit.

There are now some 165,000 unfilled social care vacancies, which is severely impacting upon the sector’s ability to effectively deliver care. Indeed, some care providers are leaving the sector because of the staffing crisis, allied to huge cost rises and a lack of funding.

Some 1.6m people are living with an unmet care need under the current Government.

We had to fight long and hard to get social care added to the list of occupations that we were able to recruit into from overseas. And even then, the red tape to do so has been complicated, time-consuming and costly.

Nevertheless, many care providers, including my own nursing and care homes, have successfully recruited from overseas and those staff are playing a vital role in delivering care. Without them we, and many other care providers, would struggle to cover our shifts.

Any actions to hamper our ability to recruit from overseas would have a devastating impact upon the delivery of social care in the UK. And that, as you know, would have a similarly damaging impact on the delivery of NHS healthcare services too, as the NHS relies upon a properly functioning social care sector to perform properly.

The sector desperately needs urgent reform. As care providers we want to be able to provide care staff with pay, terms and conditions that are attractive and match those of their NHS counterparts. We would then be on a fair playing field and be better able to recruit social care staff – from home or abroad – to provide care.

But whilst ever social care is under-funded and people can get better paid jobs, without the stress that comes with a role in social care, we will continue to struggle to recruit.

Overseas recruitment threw us a lifeline – we would urge politicians not to cut that lifeline at this critical time.

As I say, I would be delighted to meet to discuss this issue in more depth at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Padgham

Chair, Independent Care Group.