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Moved to care: the impact of migration on the adult social care workforce

This report outlines key findings from new research, conducted by the International Longevity Centre UK and Independent Age, into the importance of migration to the adult social care workforce in England. Despite a growing body of literature and speculation about the future of adult social care on the one hand, and the socioeconomic implications of migration on the other, there has been little informed discussion about the role of migrants in the delivery of care and how this might evolve over future decades.

With the older population set to grow significantly faster than the working age population, there is a big question about whether we will be able to look after the swelling numbers of older people in need of care. The age group that is likely to grow the fastest over the coming decades is the ‘oldest old’, with the number of people over 80 expected to double in size from around 2.7 million today to over five million by 2037. But despite evidence of rising care needs, the adult social care sector is facing significant challenges in recruiting, paying for and retaining its staff. At the same time, the government is seeking to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, which in principle means putting severe restrictions on low-skilled non- EU migration and potentially involves a renegotiation of its relationship with the EU.

This report therefore focuses its attention on four critical areas:

1 The current role of migrants within the care workforce.
2 The reasons why migrant care workers are in demand.
3 The potential impact of public policy on the ability of the care workforce to meet demand over the long term.
4 Recommendations about what different stakeholders can do to ensure the workforce is able to meet future demand.