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Confusion Worsens Crisis In Social Care Staffing, Provider Group Warns

Independent Care GroupConfusion over the future of EU workers in Britain threatens to deepen the crisis in the social care workforce, a care providers’ group warned today.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) fears that free movement from EU countries will end after Brexit and unskilled workers will receive no preferential treatment in coming to work here.
However, there are also reports that a cap on skilled workers – which includes nurses – could be removed, which might aid the sector, which is also chronically short of nursing staff.
The ICG has called for an end to the confusion and for all social care staff to be classed as skilled, because the country is in such dire need of them now.
Currently around 230,000 social care staff in England – 17% of the total – are from overseas, particularly from EU countries. But the ICG says today’s proposal from the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee could hit the recruitment of social care workers hard. Recent reports suggest Brexit could leave the UK short of 380,000 care workers within the next eight years, if freedom of movement is not maintained.
Its chair, Mike Padgham said: “At the end of the day, we have a shortage of care staff in this country and we have to resolve that. The sector relies upon overseas workers, especially those coming to work from other EU countries. We know there is a huge explosion in the number of people needing care ahead of us and it is hard to see how we would operate if the number of carers from overseas was reduced.
“At the same time, the harsh reality facing care providers is not how are we going to manage in 20 years’ time but how we are going to staff our shifts tonight, tomorrow and next week.
“This is easy to resolve: start to recognize social care workers as skilled – which they are – and accept that we need to recruit more from overseas.”
It is estimated that more than 1.2m people are currently living with an unmet care need. More than a million people do receive care – either in residential homes or in their own homes. A recent report suggested the number of people requiring the highest level of round-the-clock care is to increase dramatically. It suggested that the number of people aged over 65 needing 24-hour care will rise by a third to over a million in the next 20 years. And the number of over-85s needing 24-hour care will double to 446,000 in England, by 2035.
“We are just not going to be able to cope,” Mr Padgham added. “And as a country we have to decide what we are going to do about it. We already have a frightening number of people – 1.2m and growing – who do not get the care they should and because the sector is starved of funding we are seeing care homes close and homecare agencies close or hand back unviable contracts. We can’t go on like this any longer.”

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