With Brexit looming large in early 2019, the UK care sector is bracing itself for turbulent times ahead.
It is estimated that around 60,000 care sector workers will be impacted when the UK officially leaves the European Union, which begs the question – what will become of our already ailing and burgeoning care sector?
Ever since the referendum in June 2016, the health and social sector at large has witnessed a significant decrease in applicants from EU countries applying for care jobs in the UK. This is mainly due to the ongoing uncertainty of free movement and long term employment prospects in the UK.
Brexit could potentially mean that the UK care industry could end up with a staffing shortfall of 380,000 fewer social care workers by 2026. This is a startlingly alarming number, especially when you consider how much the industry is struggling already.
The constantly growing care home vacancy rates, as well as an increasingly large aging population will eventually bring the sector to its knees if these positions cannot be filled. It is for this reason that the Government should ease up on hiring skilled workers to allow them quick passage to the UK if their services are sought.
The current crisis has also shed light on the fact that Britain is not producing, or is failing to inspire much of its workforce to join the care sector. Common perceptions of low wages and long hours are definitely not encouraging people to apply for the many vacant positions available. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that these roles have to be filled by qualified migrants, regardless of whether they are from the EU or beyond. At this stage in the care home crisis, can the UK afford to take such a hard stance on the free movement of qualified care staff, or should we apply a softer approach to encourage skilled migrants to help with the growing shortfall?
Perhaps, now is also a good time for the Government to introspect on what it should be doing to encourage British workers to train for careers in the care sector. However, this will not be an easy task, with many people wrongly believing it is a thankless job. The constant negative media attention has also not helped the public view of the care sector, and maybe there is good reason for this. News of failing care homes and abuse scandals have certainly not helped matters, but there are many, many more stories of great care and compassion that almost always go unmentioned.
Aston Brooke Solicitors specialise in immigration cases, particularly Tier 2 visas and Sponsor Licences for qualified care staff from abroad. If you are a care home owner who is concerned about how Brexit will affect your business, and would like more information about our immigration services, please contact our specialist care home solicitors at Aston Brooke Solicitors on 020 3475 4321.