The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released a report on immigration this week looking at the possible role of a points-based system for immigration and the appropriate level of salary thresholds.
The report provides an assessment of how different levels of salary thresholds are likely to affect a variety of outcomes, including impact on social care. It suggests cutting the proposed salary threshold for skilled migrants from £30,000 to £25,600, but does intimate that this won't be a solution for social care employment rates.
On social care, the MAC report says, 'We remain of the view that the very real problems in this sector are caused by a failure to offer competitive terms and conditions, something that is itself caused by a failure to have a sustainable funding model. Although senior carers and some other roles within this sector would become eligible with the extension of the skilled worker route to included medium-skill occupations, this route is not the appropriate one to use to solve the problems this sector faces for low-skilled workers. Many of the problems involve lower-skilled care workers who would not be eligible under this route as they are below RQF3 skill-level.'
In response to yesterday’s report, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Vice-President, James Bullion said, 'The Migration Advisory Committee’s message is clear – migration is just one of the pressures affecting adult social care. However the real issue is funding. Thresholds...are largely meaningless in a sector where over a third earn the national living wage.
'Colleagues in adult social care enable millions of us to live the lives we want to lead, but pay doesn’t reflect their experience, skills and dedication. ADASS is calling on the Government to seize the opportunity and sort out short-term funding, set out its vision for longer-term reform and support the development of a long-term plan for adult social care. We must send a signal that social care staff are valued and they will be rewarded for the amazing work they do, and difference they make to our lives every day.'
Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said, 'Reducing the salary threshold is welcome but does not go far enough. In both health and social care we cannot recruit and retain the staff we need now, and unless we have the right migration arrangements we risk stretching local services to breaking point.
'Of course there is more we can and should do to recruit and retain staff trained here, which is why the Spending Review later this year must restore investment in training front line professional staff and restore the nursing bursary.
'The description of the pressure on social care as ‘slightly increased’ misses the point – this is the biggest challenge facing social care and health and today’s report simply does not reflect that.'
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said, 'The social care sector is already under immense pressure, and heavily reliant on workers from overseas. Anything that creates a further barrier to recruiting and retaining that workforce will only make that worse. We urgently need the Government to develop and implement a comprehensive workforce strategy for social care, to ensure we can deliver a social care system fit for purpose in the future. This must be developed in tandem with the workforce strategy for the NHS.
'The Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee has said that some difficult trade-offs are unavoidable, but it’s essential that social care providers are given assurances that any new system does not come at the cost of poorer care for the older people and families who currently depend on it.
'We want to see any new immigration system include a route for those workers from overseas to avoid creating additional strain across our stretched NHS and care systems.'
The full MAC report on immigration is available on the GOV.UK website.