Social care businesses are starting to target people in Britain made jobless in the Coronavirus pandemic as the Government moves to end the sector’s use of migrant workers.
Goldsmith Personnel, a specialist health and social care company, this week posted job adverts for care assistants across London to earn up to £11 an hour, stating: “Have you recently lost your job and looking to start a new career?”
Another, Lavaro Care, is also posting jobs for people to join them as care workers who are “currently unemployed” in the north west of England.
It comes amid an escalating row over the Government’s new points-based immigration system that will effectively exclude the vast majority of migrant care workers who will not fulfil the skilled job or pay criteria.
The average wage in the sector is £16,000 a year, far below the threshold of £25,600 that would gain migrants an automatic 20 points towards their required 70 point total, and well below the pay floor of £20,480.
“The Government’s independent migration advisers were clear that immigration is not the solution to issues in the care system, so it is good to see care homes are recruiting from the British pool,” said a Government source.
A Home Office official added: “We may be looking at levels of unemployment not seen for many decades. Therefore there is a pool of people to whom employers might look to see whether they can source their labour from there.”
The care sector estimate staff shortages at 122,000, and Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care services, said that blocking recruitment of migrants without providing an alternative source was counterproductive.
He said many people in the hospitality and retail sectors, who had been hard hit by the Covid-19 downturn, were the type of workers that social care could recruit but the Government had failed to ally its immigration policy with a “coherent transfer scheme” to enable them to switch.
He warned that the Government’s changes could lead to serious staff shortages. “If there are no staff there, will be no services,” he said.
“And the Government will have to step in because people will go into the NHS if there is no social care. Either way, the taxpayer will pick up the bill for this shortsighted policy.”
The Government confirmed yesterday that all health and social care staff will be exempt from the immigration health surcharge, and any who have paid it on or after March 31 will be eligible for a reimbursement.
Alan Manning, former Chair of the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, said: “Social care has a range of jobs in it, some of which will be allowed under the new system, but the key job of care assistant will not be under the original plans, we will have to see what they propose, but the really serious problems they have in that sector is they just don’t pay competitive pay and other conditions, so plenty of people in the UK are able to do those jobs but they don’t want to. So the solution they need to do is find the money to pay those workers properly.”