Migration changes will be a disaster for social care unless Government introduces special route

Natasha Curry responds to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on a points-based immigration system and salary thresholds.

Press release

Published: 28/01/2020

Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on a points-based immigration system and salary thresholds, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Policy Natasha Curry said:

“NHS leaders will be relieved that these MAC proposals would not greatly worsen the difficult staffing situation they face – but the changes would be a disaster for social care unless a new sector-specific route is added.

“The skilled worker route laid out would mean nurses and other health professionals could still come in on a health service salary. Some categories of staff, including senior social care workers, would benefit from the cut in general salary thresholds to £25,600. However, EEA migrants in the service and the trusts who employ them will now face the same hefty fees as those from elsewhere, which can only be a deterrent.

“But on their own, these proposals would make it almost impossible for people to migrate to work in most frontline social care jobs. That is alarming because care homes and other providers already have climbing vacancy rates[2], and our research shows tens of thousands more staff will be needed to meet the promise of fixing a system that leaves many languishing without support[3]. The temporary one-year visa proposal mentioned for lower paid workers would make a bad situation worse in a sector where continuity of relationships and developing skills really matters.

“The Committee suggests that social care simply needs more funding to adjust to a drop in migration, but at the moment the sector is verging on bankruptcy with no end in sight. The Government needs to consider a special migration route for the sector, as raised in the report, to avoid damage to services that vulnerable people and the NHS depend on.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Migration Advisory Committee’s report, and accompanying analysis, can be seen on their website here.
  2. Rising vacancy rates are shown in Skills for Care’s State of the Workforce report.
  3. Our briefing last year, Social Care: the action we need, laid out the changes needed to the current failing system. It found that in order to help those who need care but currently go without, reforms might need to be accompanied by 50,000 to 90,000 additional workers.
  4. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.