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Relaxed immigration rules for care workers come into force

The immigration rules have been relaxed for care workers in a bid to encourage more overseas care workers to come to the UK.

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    Care workers on the Shortage Occupation List

    Immigration rules have now been relaxed for care workers after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on Christmas eve that they would do so.

    Care workers have been added to the Shortage Occupation List, this means that care workers applying for a UK work visa will benefit from relaxed eligibility criteria including a lower minimum salary requirement.

    Care workers will remain on the Shortage Occupation list for 12 months and will have to earn at least £20,480 to qualify for a work visa.

    Shortages in the care sector

    The decision to include care workers on the Shortage Occupation List came as a result of a recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that jobs that are eligible for the Health and Care Visa should be added to the list.

    MAC said that the addition of care workers to the Shortage Occupation List needed to happen immediately due to “severe and increasing difficulties” that the sector was facing when it came to recruitment and retention.

    Speaking about the shortage of care workers, Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

    “The care sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges prompted by the pandemic and the changes we’ve made to the health and care visa will bolster the workforce and help alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced.”

    Relaxed rules will have “little or no effect”

    Despite the relaxation of the immigration rules for care workers a social care charity has warned that they may have “little or no effect” because most UK employers do not pay care workers enough to qualify for the scheme.

    To be eligible, overseas care workers must earn at least £20,480 which is equivalent to £10.10 an hour, this is an issue as it is higher than the new National Minimum Wage of £9.50 that will come into effect in April.

    Mark Adams, chief executive of Community Integrated Care – one of the UK’s largest social care charities, is calling for proper pay, funding and training. He said:

    “Whilst we’re pleased to see the Government finally concede that care workers play a skilled role in society, the reality is, for most providers, this change will have little or no effect…If the Government truly want a high-skilled, high wage economy, then salaries have to reflect the professional standards required to deliver quality care, and local authorities must be funded by central Government to pay for this.”

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