The points-based immigration proposals are a concern for the future availability of social workers and our hugely valued, skilled care colleagues
BASW responds as the Government re-introduces the new Immigration Bill to Parliament
In the last few weeks, the UK Government has encouraged us all to clap for carers: specifically, social care workers and health care workers. And rightly so, since these colleagues - alongside social workers and other public sector staff - have been in the front line against Covid-19. Many individuals in essential roles have sacrificed their lives in the fight against Covid-19.
Today the Government re-introduced the new Immigration Bill to Parliament. Most social care workers in care home and home care roles are paid less than the government £26,480 threshold - yet despite the role they’ve played in the fight against Covid-19, the Government have reverted to calling these staff ‘low skilled’ and will bar them from working in the UK under the proposed new salary threshold and points based immigration system.
This is not only an insult to existing social care workers and their colleagues from overseas who plan to join them, the government is hampering the supply of staff to care homes, residential homes and other personal and home care settings. This workforce is crucial to our whole care and health system and there is guarantee we can meet demand for care staff from within the UK.
In addition to this issue, workers coming into the UK have to pay a health service surcharge, currently £400, and this includes nurses. The Government has suspended the surcharge in the current Covid crisis, but rather than now abandoning it for good, plans to reinstate the surcharge at a higher rate – increasing it – from £400 to £625.
BASW chief executive, Ruth Allen, said:
“Social care and support staff outside of social work are hugely valued and skilled colleagues. The essential nature of the work they do has been highlighted during Covid-19 – but so has the endemic problems of low pay, marginalisation in the health and care system and an attitude of dispensability.
“Social work cannot do its job without the wider social care workforce, and nor can our colleagues in hard pressed healthcare.’’
“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’’.
“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 solution to the long-term crisis of adult social care”
 The full title of the Bill is ‘The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawl) Bill.