The government’s flagship immigration bill that would end freedom of movement rules in post-Brexit UK has been defeated in the House of Lords, after peers ratified an amendment calling for an inquiry into the bill’s impact on staff in social care
The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which paves the way for a new points-based immigration system, had already passed its initial stages in the House of Commons when peers voted for a review of the immigration policy in relation to the social care workforce within six months of the Bill becoming law.
A Labour-led demand for an independent review of how restricting free movement would impact social care saw peers defeat the government by 304 votes to 224 – a majority of 80.
The defeat comes amid concerns that the legislation could increase care sector staff shortages and deepen the crisis which is already under strain in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic
Analysis by the trade union for care workers GMB, has revealed the government’s new immigration rules could result in care worker job vacancy crisis in the UK topping 460,000.
’Who will keep our care homes going if Ministers continue to pull up the drawbridge?’
The legislation will now go back to the Commons for approval but with a government majority of 80, the amendments are not expected to remain.
Welcoming the vote, the GMB union is now urging the Home Secretary Priti Patel to listen to what the Lords has said.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Care in the UK is facing almost a staffing black hole of almost half a million people thanks to the Government’s insulting immigration policy and failure to properly fund the sector.
“The Home Secretary must now accept what the House of Lords has today said about the Government’s Immigration Bill and its concerns about the impact on social care workers.
“For too long care workers have faced inadequate rates of pay, lack of recognition for their skills, and denial of opportunities for progression. We are determined to defend our members of all nationalities when their jobs are under threat.
“The demand on social care services is increasing every day, workloads are already unmanageable, and the Government must now try to plug the enormous staffing black hole.
“Who will keep our care homes going if Ministers continue to pull up the drawbridge?”