Move to exclude social care workers from new immigration rules an ‘embarrassing shambles’
The Government has been condemned for excluding social care workers from its new immigration rules, with the move described as an “embarrassing shambles”.
It was announced on Monday that a health and care visa will provide a visa route for key health professionals to work in the UK, but this will exclude social care workers.
Charities and community groups fear the new points-based immigration system, designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from January 2021, will also exclude lowly-paid NHS cleaners, porters and support staff.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had serious concerns that the new rules could damage the capital’s economic recovery, causing difficulties for sectors including social care.
“Undermining these sectors will make it even harder to look after our elderly relatives and resolve the ongoing pressures within our NHS and social care system,” he said.
“Instead of recognising the hugely positive impact that immigration has had on London and the UK’s economy and communities, the Government is pulling up the drawbridge to much of the talent we continue to need as a city and a country.”
Rehana Azam (pictured), national secretary of trade union GMB, said: “The Government’s new immigration rules are descending into an embarrassing shambles and make no consideration or acknowledgement of the vital job care workers have been doing these past few months.”
She said care homes relied on hundreds of thousands of workers from outside Europe, adding: “Demand on health and social care is increasing every day and the pandemic has shown just how vital these workers are, yet the Government seems intent on branding them as low-skilled and exacerbating the crisis by creating new barriers.”
People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.
Points will be awarded for key requirements such as being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.
On care workers, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our independent migration advisers have said that immigration is not the sole answer here, which is why we have provided councils with an additional £1.5 billion of funding for social care in 2021/22, as well as launching a new recruitment campaign.”
Existing European Union workers in the care sector could apply to stay in the UK through the settlement scheme “and a very large number have done so”, the spokesman said.
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