How the UK’s strategy to reduce net migration affects care work

By Fifty21 Media

28 Mar 2024

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In a decisive move to address the challenges of unsustainable legal migration and visa abuse, the UK government has introduced a set of stringent rules. This comprehensive approach aims to significantly decrease net migration while ensuring the integrity of the visa system.

Central to these reforms is the limitation placed on care workers, who are now restricted from bringing dependants. This measure addresses the imbalance observed last year when 120,000 dependants arrived with 100,000 workers, highlighting a disproportionate trend that has prompted immediate action.

Enhancing Regulation in the Care Sector

To fortify the health and social care sector against exploitation and abuse, care providers in England will now be obligated to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This mandatory registration serves as a crucial step in safeguarding migrant workers and maintaining high standards within the industry. This action is part of a broader initiative aimed at reducing the number of people eligible to enter the UK under this route by 300,000, a significant reduction from the previous year's figures.

A Commitment to Ethical Immigration Practices

The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, underscored the invaluable role of care workers in British society. However, he also pointed out the necessity of confronting the manipulation of the immigration system and the resultant unsustainable migration figures. Cleverly emphasised a balanced approach that protects British workers while attracting top international talent to contribute to society and the economy.

This balanced approach extends to addressing the issue of visas offered under false pretences. There have been instances where care workers were lured with the promise of jobs that did not exist or were paid below the minimum wage, exploiting them and undermining British workers. The government is set to introduce legislative changes to address these concerns, including raising the salary threshold for skilled workers and revising the criteria for shortage occupations.

Fostering a Domestic Workforce for Social Care

The Minister for Social Care, Helen Whately, highlighted the importance of international care workers but also pointed out that relying on immigration is not a sustainable solution for the social care sector. The government is taking steps to enhance the domestic workforce through reforms, including the introduction of a national career path and a new care qualification for care workers. These measures aim to attract more individuals to the social care profession, reduce vacancies, and decrease staff turnover.

Streamlining Graduate Visas and Focusing on High-Quality Education

The government is also reviewing the graduate route for international students to ensure it attracts the best talent while maintaining the quality of UK higher education. Concerns have been raised about the surge in international postgraduate students at institutions with low entry requirements, prompting a reassessment of visa regulations to prevent abuse of the system.

Adjusting Immigration Policies for Skilled Workers

Significant changes are on the horizon with the abolition of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), to be replaced by a new Immigration Salary List. This adjustment reflects a commitment to ensuring that immigration supports sectors in genuine need of skilled workers without compromising the wages or opportunities of British workers. From April, the salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas will see a considerable increase, underscoring the government's strategy to prioritise highly skilled individuals who can contribute substantially to the economy.

Supporting the Domestic Social Care Workforce

The government's stance is clear: immigration should not be viewed as a long-term solution to staffing the social care sector. Efforts are underway to bolster the domestic workforce through improved training, clearer career paths, and a new accredited qualification. This is part of a broader initiative that includes the Department for Work and Pensions' significant investment in helping individuals overcome barriers to employment.

These sweeping reforms represent the UK government's firm commitment to managing immigration effectively, protecting workers, and ensuring that the nation's economic and social care needs are met through ethical and sustainable practices.

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