Providers Urge Government Not To Stop Vital Source Of Staff
WORRIED care providers today called on the Government to spare the social care sector from any moves to cut the number of overseas workers coming to the UK.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) has warned that limiting the flow of overseas staff to work in the sector would hit the care of older and vulnerable people hard, as it struggles to recover from the pandemic.
There are fears that the Government is to crack down on overseas recruitment amidst fears over rising immigration figures, due to be released shortly.
But ICG Chair Mike Padgham said it was vital that the Government spared the social care sector from any cuts.
“Cutting the number of overseas staff that we can bring in to work in social care would be the worst thing the Government could do right now,” he said.
“Care providers are struggling to recover from the devastating impact first of the Covid-19 pandemic and now from the cost-of-living crisis. We are already losing providers and taking away a vital source of staff might push even more to the edge of survival.”
The social care sector is going through a recruitment crisis, with an estimated 165,000 vacancies within the sector, hampering the sector’s ability to provide proper care to hundreds of thousands of people.
That staffing shortage, added to the impact of the pandemic and ensuing increases in costs, has led to further care and nursing home closures and the closure of homecare providers.
Since last year, care providers have been able to recruit care workers from overseas if they got a Home Office licence to do so.
Mr Padgham added: “In the case of my own care business, we have recruited more than 20 overseas staff who have made a huge difference to us.
They have brought their skills and expertise, new thinking and ideas and new cultures to our centres and we are all the better for their presence.
“We and many other providers, would struggle to operate properly if that source of staff was in any way restricted. We want to maintain the flow of overseas staff, provided the source countries’ care resources are not depleted as a result.”
He said the Government needs to carry out urgent reform to the social care sector, beginning with the extra funding needed to recruit staff.
“We have a staffing shortage and the main reason for that is that social care workers are not rewarded or recognised adequately in this country and prefer to choose other careers instead,” Mr Padgham added.
“Properly funding the sector and giving the workforce the pay, conditions and prospects they deserve would enable care providers to recruit from this country and abroad and tackle the 165,000 staff shortages we currently have. Whether they are staff from overseas or this country they deserve better pay, on a par with their NHS counterparts.”
The ICG wants to see urgent action on social care and has issued its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document, setting out what it believes are the actions required to save the sector.
The five pillars are:
• Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
• Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
• Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
• Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
• Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and homecare visits.