The Government has announced that care staff will be added to the Shortage Occupation List in response to pandemic pressures, following temporary changes to the health and care visa.
This boost follows the recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to make care workers and home carers eligible for the Health and Care visa and add the occupation to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Inclusion on the Shortage Occupation List will stipulate an annual salary minimum of £20,480 for carers to qualify for the Health and Care visa. The UK is committed to becoming a high-skilled, high-wage economy and minimum salaries must reflect the professional skills that are required to provide quality care. The Health and Care visa will allow applicants and their dependents to benefit from fast-track processing, dedicated resources in processing applications and reduced visa fees.
The temporary measures are expected to come into effect early this year and will be in place for a minimum of 12 months, providing a much-needed staffing boost while the sector deals with the additional pressures of the pandemic, at which point they will be reviewed.
Care providers who do not already hold a sponsor licence in the Skilled Worker route can prepare to take advantage of the offer by registering for a sponsorship license ahead of implementation.
Providers who are new to visa sponsorship will be supported through the process through a series of engagement activities in January and February, to introduce them to the system and find out how to act as a visa sponsor.
Care workers and carers recruited to the UK will be able to bring their dependents, including partner and children, with the Health and Care visa offering a pathway to settlement should they remain employed and wish to remain in the UK.
NCF responds to the Government announcement that it has agreed with the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee that front line care workers should be included in the Shortage Occupation List.
Vic Rayner OBE, said, ‘This is welcome news at an incredibly challenging moment for social care. The workforce is under more pressure than ever before, and this change will mean that hard pressed employers struggling to recruit from the UK labour market will have a glimmer of hope for the New Year.’
In addition, Rayner said, ‘It is important that the Government has finally addressed this issue, which has been strongly advocated for by NCF and its membership. It will be imperative that all organisations – large and small - needing these additional valued workers, will be able to utilise the Immigration system at speed. At present it is complex, and organisations currently using it for wider roles recognise the financial and bureaucratic burdens inherent in the system.’
In other news, as the new year begins, the Government will provide an extra £60m of funding support to local authorities to support the adult social care response to COVID-19.
Visit the Government website for more information.