22 May | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Migrants at Work challenges UK’s new policy about care workers

UK govt introduces policy at a time when vacancy rate in adult social care workforce is at almost 10%

The Migrants at Work – an organization that supports migrant workers – has launched a legal challenge against the government’s new policy to bar care workers from bringing children and partners to the United Kingdom, calling it tearing families apart.

According to the organization, the care workers have to choose between family life with their children and partners or getting a job as a health or social career in the UK, the local media quoted the organization’s officials as saying. The policy, which took effect last month, has been introduced at a time when the vacancy rate in the adult social care workforce is at almost 10%.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said the changes had been made to tighten up high levels of non-compliance as well as exploitation and abuse in the care sector. A report from the Migration Advisory Committee estimated that 236,000 full-time care staff would be needed in the next 11 years. A report to the Public Accounts Committee last month found there were 152,000 vacancies in the care sector.

James Cleverly supports changes to tighten up high levels of non-compliance as well as exploitation and abuse in care sector

The legal action argued that the policy was discriminatory on various grounds, and is in breach of the public sector equality duty. It claims the home secretary has failed to take into account the needs of care sector workers. Migrants at Work Chief Executive Ake Achi said that the Home Office’s changes to the health and social care visa will further exacerbate the staff shortages in the adult social care workforce.

On top of this, carers are now facing an invidious choice: either they take up a job that will contribute to the delivery of social care at a time of crisis in the UK, or they continue living with their children and partners, he said, adding that the new rules will not allow them to do both. “We have seen cases where prospective care workers have been told they have to leave the UK since the new rules have come in, on the basis that their children are not permitted to stay in the UK.”

He said that the new rules were already tearing families apart and the impact on the wider care sector will be disastrous. Jeremy Bloom, representing Migrants at Work, said the Home Office still had an opportunity to ditch the new rules and save on the expense of litigation. “We haven’t seen any evidence that the Home Office has properly considered the impact that this will have on people coming to the UK on health and social care visas, on the vulnerable individuals who need access to social care, or on the wider system of social care.”

He accused the home secretary of ignoring the impact this would have on staff shortages in the social care sector. “The secretary is clear that a full impact assessment was not carried out prior to introduction of the policy, which raises concerns about whether he has complied with the public sector equality duty.” A government spokesperson said the care workers make a vital contribution to the society, but immigration was not the long-term answer to social care needs.