Government eases immigration rules for care workers

The UK government has added care workers, care assistants, and home care workers to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list as the nation suffers a severe shortage. Care personnel is now eligible for special visas.

To qualify, care workers who arrive on one-year health and care visas must receive an annual salary of at least £20,480.

The news follows the recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent public body that advises the government on migration issues, that the jobs should be eligible for the health and care visa.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the measure is expected to come into effect in early 2022, adding that care workers will be entitled to bring dependants, including a partner and children.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it would help to ‘ensure short term sustainability’ and urged care workers to get vaccinated.

Responding to the news, the Homecare Association welcomed the measure. Chief executive Dr Jane Townson said: “We have long campaigned for a change in migration policy to make it easier to recruit care workers from overseas to help maintain and grow workforce capacity.

“Our member surveys indicate that workforce shortages in homecare are acute and continue to worsen.”

And more than 40,000 social care staff have left the sector over the last six months, analysis of government figures shows.

The association is calling on the DHSC to produce guidance for care providers on the processes involved in international recruitment and for support with the costs involved.

It says that the costs of international recruitment are around £7,000 per worker, excluding back-office administrative costs, which can also add up to £6,000-7,000 per worker, depending on the scale of recruitment.

“We are aware that some Integrated Care Systems(ICS) are providing financial support to NHS trusts to help with international recruitment and this is also needed for the social care sector,” Townson continued.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England which represents independent care providers added: “Care England has long called for care workers to be on the Shortage Occupation List and is therefore very pleased that the Migration Advisory Committee has put forward this very important recommendation to government. There is an acute workforce shortage in adult social care now so this recommendation cannot be enacted fast enough.”

The move follows an investment of £462.5 million in supporting recruitment and retention of social care staff as staff shortages worsen.

Date published: January 4, 2022

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