UK Government urged to ‘do the right thing’ and ensure overseas care workers are eligible for visas

The UK Government is being urged to “do the right thing” and make care workers from outside the UK eligible for visas.

Scottish ministers said they were “dismayed” that their counterparts in Westminster had disregarded key sectors that have been relied upon during the Covid-19 pandemic when drawing up their post-Brexit immigration policy.

Holyrood migration minister Ben Macpherson (pictured) also complained that the UK Government had “inappropriately and inaccurately labelled several key sectors as ‘low-skilled’”, saying this was “offensive and does not recognise the UK’s reliance on people fulfilling these crucial roles”.

The Scottish Government is calling for social care workers to be eligible for the UK Government’s proposed new Health and Care Visa.

Holyrood ministers also want social care workers to be included on the Shortage Occupation List set by the UK Government, allowing overseas staff to come and work here in such roles.

In Scotland an estimated 16,000 workers from other European nations are employed in health and social care, with a further 10,000 people from other overseas nations also employed in the sector.

Mr Macpherson said: “Care professionals from all over the world have played a vital role in caring for our communities during the Covid-19 crisis.

“It is mind-boggling that the UK Government has introduced a ‘Health and Care Visa’, intended to show the UK’s gratitude to frontline workers in these sectors, but that this initiative bizarrely continues to exclude and disregard the huge contribution of social care workers.

“I urge the UK Government to do the right thing and include care workers as eligible for the recently announced Health and Care Visa, so that people who make and have made such an important contribution to our society, particularly recently, can benefit from reduced fees, a fast-track application service, and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.”

Meanwhile he said if social care was added to the Shortage Occupation List, care providers would be able to recruit overseas staff at the lower salary threshold of £20,480.

Under the current immigration proposals from the UK Government they would have to be paid £25,600, making it harder for the sector to recruit the staff it needs.

“The care sector in Scotland currently faces many challenges, including a significant demand for suitable workers,” a new Scottish Government report on the issue said.

It added that the “health and social care workforce in Scotland benefits enormously from the contribution made by staff from across the European Union”.

Mr Macpherson said: “This report, responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL), shows how the UK Government’s ending of freedom of movement, and no replacement general route for what they have wrongly and offensively deemed ‘lower-skilled’ migrants, will be damaging to social care provision and key Scottish sectors of the Scottish economy.

“Adding social care roles to the SOL would allow employers to recruit international workers at a lower salary threshold of £20,480, instead of the proposed £25,600.”

The minister continued: “The Scottish Government is clear – we greatly value the skills and contributions of all people who come and settle in Scotland.

“Inward migration enriches our society for the better and migrants make a net contribution to our economy, our public services and our public finances. Family migration also contributes positively to our demography, and the sustainability of rural and remote communities.”

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