Last week the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, announced changes to the immigration system that will lay a hammer blow to a social care sector that is already reeling after years of neglect.
In response, Matthew Kalupka, co-founder of Home Counties Carers shares his thoughts.
The changes being made to the Health and Care Visa route are short-sighted. When the changes take effect, in Spring 2024, care workers will no longer be able to bring dependents when they migrate to the UK. In our sector, overseas recruitment is currently vital to fill the shortfall in staff.
The Care Sector was hugely relieved when access was given to recruit overseas workers to ease the chronic shortage of care staff. However, these latest changes will have an impact on those care staff already here, that they may not be able to remain, just one income is not enough for them to sustain a life here or make enough money for their families. It is likely that much needed potential carers will rethink coming to UK and decide to migrate to other countries with more attractive options.
It is impossible to see how this change in policy can be reconciled in any way with the government’s stated ambition to increase the availability of workers in the care sector in the UK, to meet what is estimated may be a vacancy list of 360,000 just 15 years’ time, and which is already in the region of 150,000.
As an organisation we have demonstrated how to successfully recruit, foster, nurture and support overseas care workers using the overseas sponsorship licence.
We have recently recruited staff from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Canada. We pay our care staff well and ensure that we support our overseas staff to navigate a new country, find accommodation and a car. Helping them to settle and feel happy and secure.
Sadly, I believe there are a lot of opportunists out there, and there has been room within the sponsorship process for abuse of the system and as a consequence we have heard in the press about care workers arriving in the UK to unfulfilled promises. In fact, some overseas care workers that are working with Home Counties Carers have come to us from organisations that exploited them.
The Home Office and the CQC need to be more rigorous in their selection as to who could sponsor Health and Care Visa applicants preventing abuse of the system.
It is ill-thought-out and unwise to reduce social care’s reliance on overseas workers without first implementing long overdue reforms to the sector and give it the funding it needs to properly reward its workforce. That would help providers to recruit staff more easily, including those in the UK who currently choose careers paths other than care.