Report highlights increased care worker shortage

December 16, 2021

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its annual report this week, which outlined several recommendations to Government to alleviate short term issues in the labour market.

One of the recommendations includes making care workers immediately eligible for the Health and Care Worker Visa and placing the occupation on the Shortage Occupation List.

The Committee said that this will allow employers to sponsor care workers subject to a minimum salary of £20,480 per year – equivalent to £10.10 per hour for a full-time worker.

MAC recognises that this is not a solution that will work for all employers in the sector. Many employers will not be registered as sponsors and the cost of the immigration route may be too high for some small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Committee recommends that Government could additionally consider ways of making the immigration system more accessible for adult social care SMEs. This could include using the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund to reduce the financial cost of recruitment through the immigration system. MAC also recognises that many care worker jobs pay significantly below the rate of £10.10 per hour.

Other adult social care occupations in direct care provision such as senior care workers, nurses and care home managers are already eligible to use the Health and Care Worker Visa, and MAC outlines in the report that it does not think it is necessary to provide any interim recommendations for these occupations.

The Committee’s final report will provide a full analysis of all the evidence for these occupations and consider how the immigration system works, or does not work, for them.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said, ‘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.’

Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Annual Report which identifies severe and increasing shortages of care workers, Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO said, ‘It is clear from this report that we need far more care workers – but that we also need to support our care workers in how they deliver care by backing new and innovative models of housing-with-care provision such as Integrated Retirement Communities.

‘We need to provide care and support earlier on to keep older people healthy and independent for longer – reducing their needs for care in future. We can also save much of the time which care workers spend travelling between appointments by providing older people more good downsizing options where care and support is available if they need it.

‘The Government needs to think more ambitiously about how care is delivered in this country – what is clear is that the growing shortage of care workers means such action is needed now to change course.'

Visit the Government website to read the MAC report in full.

With the ever-changing COVID-19 guidance and updates to immigration policy, providers are constantly learning how best they can support their workforce. In an article for CMM, Shereen Hussein, Professor of Health and Social Care Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, shares evidence examining the impact.

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