The Cost Of Care: ‘Stealth Taxes On Care Workers Nets Govt £60m

The UK government is still set to make millions of pounds from migrant care workers by levying ‘stealth taxes’ on those who employ them, despite scrapping a controversial immigration health charge earlier this year.

In a headline-grabbing concession to foreign care workers, earlier this month (Oct) the Government scrapped the £400 Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) annual fee each was charged. The fee has now risen to £624 for qualifying migrants not employed in the health and care professions. A statement at the time acknowledged that the fee was being waived in recognition of the role care workers played during the coronavirus crisis. Before the charge was scrapped and new visa fees were introduced, the Government was making over £140m from fees levied on care workers from overseas.

However, analysis by immigration experts A Y & J Solicitors reveals that other visa charges imposed on care workers and the companies that rely on foreign care workers to fill jobs in the sector still make the government tens of millions of pounds.

According to the figures compiled by the London firm care workers from abroad add around £60m to Treasury coffers before they’ve paid any tax.

Only those classed as skilled senior care workers qualify for a Tier 2 Health and Care visa and each worker applying for one needs to pay a fee of £232. This is reduced from the standard £610. According to figures from SkillsForce, 250,000 jobs in adult social care are held by people with a non-British nationality. Of those, 134,000 are from outside the EU and so subject to the charge. Their employers also pay £199 to issue each person with a certificate of sponsorship. A Y & J Solicitors calculate that in total these combined fees alone add up to £57m.

In order to sponsor workers from overseas, care homes and adult care services must also be approved by the Home Office. The application to become an approved sponsor incurs a fee of either £536 or £1476 depending on the size of the business. A Y & J Solicitor’s research shows there are 656 businesses currently registered as adult residential care suppliers on the Home Office list of approved businesses. Even if all of these were only charged at the lower rate, the accumulated charges would still add £352, 616 to Treasury coffers. However, many of these businesses will fall into the higher charge bracket so the figures are likely to be considerably higher. There are also another 538 organisations listed on the register under the Human Health and Social Work Activities category, many of which also provide adult care and will also be subject to the charges.

Yash Dubal, Director of A Y & J Solicitors said: “From our analysis, it’s apparent that while the IHS was waived for migrant workers, the Government is still making huge sums of money from those people who come to the UK to work in an underfunded industry and look after the vulnerable and elderly. It’s a form of stealth tax.

“There are acute manpower shortages within the care industry and the government should be doing all it can to attract people to it, rather than charge them for working in it. The cost to migrants and the cost to the homes that employ them is a huge burden.”

Revenue from migrant care workers is also likely to rise after Brexit. According to the latest figures, there are 116,000 EU workers employed in the adult care industry. Currently they do not require a visa to work in the UK and will be allowed to continue working here after Brexit. A percentage of the roles they are employed in will be classed as unskilled and from January next year these will not be eligible to be filled by migrants. However, any new workers coming from Europe after Brexit to take skilled roles that would previously have qualified for free movement will have to pay the same fees as non-EU migrants, thereby adding to the overall burden on the industry.