Thanks once again for all of your lovely comments on last week’s blog on the latest Skills for Care report. At the very end, I touched on a very interesting statistic – that some 250,000 care workers are non-British. Nothing unusual in that, I hear you say. Absolutely not, given that we live in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Britain. However, I feel that the current COVID-19 pandemic is masking a looming issue for the adult social care sector in the UK – the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020, to give it its full title.
This new Act, which comes into effect on 1st January 2021, introduces a points-based system for overseas immigrants. Unfortunately, social care workers from both EU and non-EU countries will need (a) a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor, (b) the job offer at the required skill level of RQF 3 or above (A-level or equivalent) and (c) they speak English, in order to enter Britain from early next year. There are several other variables connected to visa applications, but just these basics alone appear prohibitive.
Basic economic theory states that if a certain commodity becomes more scarce, then the price of that commodity tends to increase. If, then, the supply of care workers from overseas suddenly dries up, can we expect to see a rise in social care wages? Given that the National Living Wage was only increased to £8.72 per hour in April this year, plus the higher operational costs following this pandemic, the answer to that is probably no.
How, then, will care organisations be able to keep hold of their staff with continuing low wages and fewer care workers available? As ever, I will be coming up with some suggestions over the next few weeks.