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BASW statement: New immigration rules huge risk to social care

Points based system could destabilise social care and social work workforces

BASW is extremely concerned over the impact the post-Brexit immigration system outlined by Home Secretary Priti Patel will have on social care and social work.

Ms Patel’s immigration plans require most migrants to have a job offer worth £25,600 or more, which currently would exclude most of the (non-social work) social care and support workforce, which has salaries ranging from £18,000-22,000.

While the new immigration plan makes provisions for recruiting ‘shortage occupations’ like nurses, doctors and social workers, the criteria employer sponsors must fulfil and prove seem onerous and could easily lead to delays.

For social care and support workers, who are not on this list, the situation is bleaker, and as colleagues of social workers BASW is calling for a rethink of these plans.

In social care, a decade of austerity-led under-funding and under-staffing has increased demand on health and social care services while, simultaneously, there has been reduced pay and conditions for social care and social work staff.

It has been accepted by successive governments over 20 years that there is a social care crisis, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” only one month ago.

BASW chief executive, Ruth Allen, said: “The points-based immigration proposals are a concern for the future availability of social workers and for colleagues from mainland Europe already here wondering about what this immigration message implies for their futures.

“Social care and support staff outside of social work are hugely valued and skilled colleagues – this sector will be affected even more by these proposals.

“Social work cannot do its job without the wider social care workforce, and nor can our colleagues in hard pressed healthcare.

“A credible workforce strategy that respects social care work, raises pay and conditions and is realistic about the need and value of international staff is essential as part of any ‘fix’.”

Social care is already struggling with 1 in 10 posts unfilled, while the vacancy rate for social workers is similar, and rising.

The number of social workers leaving their jobs rose 15.7% last year, Department for Education workforce statistics have shown.

The figures revealed that 4,490 (full-time equivalent) social workers had left their job in the year ending September 2018, compared with 3,880 in the previous year.

BASW’s Working Conditions survey 2018 showed the main drivers for this exodus were unrelenting year-on-year rises in caseloads coupled with too few staff and resources.

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