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Government Urged to Relax Immigration Rules for Care Workers

The government is being urged to relax rules for care worker jobs to alleviate “severe and increasing difficulties” the adult social care sector is facing with recruitment and retention.

In its annual report, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which directs the Government on immigration, advised that the jobs be made eligible for the Health and Care Visa and placed on the shortage occupation list (SOL).

The shortage occupation list is detailed in Appendix Shortage Occupation List of the UK Immigration Rules, and comprises those roles considered by the UK Government to be in short supply within the UK resident labour market.

Recommendations for roles to be included are made by the MAC with a view to meeting the needs of UK businesses and better reflecting the selective nature of the UK Points Based System and sponsored visa applications.

Under the points-based immigration system, most non-UK resident workers must apply for a visa to come to the UK to work. The primary route is the new Skilled Worker visa, which replaces the Tier 2 (General) visa.

The MAC’s annual report said: “We are currently in the middle of a commission investigating the impact of the ending of freedom of movement on the adult social care sector.

“We provide an update in this report on our preliminary findings and unusually are taking the opportunity to make a formal recommendation to the Government.

“Given the severe and increasing difficulties the sector is facing in terms of both recruitment and retention, we are recommending that care worker jobs immediately be made eligible for the Health and Care Visa and placed on the shortage occupation list.”

Care England has welcomed the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says: “Care England has long called for care workers to be on the Shortage Occupation List and is therefore very pleased that the Migration Advisory Committee has put forward this very important recommendation to Government. There is an acute workforce shortage in adult social care now so this recommendation cannot be enacted fast enough”.

MAC chair Professor Brian Bell said: “Short-term fixes are not always the solution for the UK economy, however they can be important in ensuring sectors with urgent needs can access the staff they need quickly.

“We have outlined plans on how the Government can change their approach to short-term visas and also propose changes to address some of the challenges facing the social care sector.