Stephen Wilson, CEO of Netli.co, discusses the impact which the points-based immigration system could have on social care in the UK.
With almost 1/10 of staff working in health and social care coming from the EU, care providers are still unsure what impact Brexit will have on recruiting EU nationals. It is undoubtedly a time of uncertainty:
- At the start of the year Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that there have been more than 3 million applications to the EU Settlement Scheme
- However, at the same time, the Scottish Government reported that just 57% of EU nationals currently working in Scotland had applied for the EU settlement scheme.
- Skillsforcare.org estimated that 7.8% of the roles in adult social care are vacant, equal to approximately 122,000 vacancies at any time.
- Whilst at the same time Age UK predicts that between 2017 and 2040 the population of people aged over 65 is projected to increase by 49%. The numbers of people aged over 85 – the group most likely to need health and care services – is projected to rise even more rapidly, nearly doubling from 1.4 to 2.7 million over the same period
So, who are we to believe in these mixed messages?
With needs increasing and capacity decreasing, any loss of staff from the EU would be disastrous.
Unfortunately, the government’s proposed “points-based immigration system’ for those from the EU, looking to work in the UK, will not be a support. The largest proportion of the current 122,000 vacancies would fail to meet the points-based criteria, due to the potential salary that care workers receive falling below the level set by the government. Currently, the role of a care worker is not classed as skilled or does not appear on the shortage occupation list.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) were asked to consider impacts on, and potential mitigations for, “sectors that provide high public value to society and the economy, but which might not necessarily pay as high wages”. MAC reported that: “The most obvious examples of these might be public sector jobs like health and social care workers and teachers.” However, to date there has been no response from the UK Government if a mitigation strategy for health and social care workers will be introduced.
With so much uncertainty you may be surprised to learn that care companies access Brexit grant support has been pulled. This leaves the most vulnerable in society at risk of losing their care packages as care providers struggle to navigate the impact of the Brexit transition.
More so than ever, recruitment must go on, that is why Netli have been in discussions with Scottish Government to support a national recruitment campaign. This includes CareJob.co, the first job board from advert to recruitment specifically for the health and social care sector. Additionally, Netli are hoping to support in these challenging times by providing free services for HSCPs, NHS, Local Authorities, Professional and Representative Bodies and Trade Unions.
Whilst we can’t predict the exact impact of Brexit we can prepare. With support and guidance any health and social care provider can weather this perfect storm.