On 24/12/2021 UK Home Office announced addition of Care Workers to the UK Shortage Occupation List under Soc Code ‘6145 Care Workers and Home Carers’. As a result of this announcement, overseas migrant Care Workers are currently allowed to apply for Skilled Worker Health and Care visa during the one year counting from 15/02/2022.
The burning question that at present is asked by many is what next with the Care Workers after 15/02/2023. Unfortunately, Home Office is still to provide their answer to this question, although due to the dire shortage of the local Care Workers in the UK, it is highly likely the Soc Code 6145 will remain on the Shortage Occupation List for the foreseeable future.
MAC’s April 2022 review of Adult Social Care
Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in April 2022 published their Review of Adult Social Care in the UK. Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent public body sponsored by the Home Office and it advises the UK government on migration issues.
According to MAC’s April 2022 Report, the UK social care sector faces additional challenges of growing demand and a restricted supply of care due to workforce shortages and budget constraints; problems exacerbated by the pandemic. MAC’s projections, based on estimated future care need, suggest that the sector will need to recruit a further 236,000 FTEs over the next 11 years to keep up with growing care need.
Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommendations on Adult Social Care health and care visa
Following review of the Adult Care Sector showing dire staff shortages, MAC provided their recommendations to Home Office. In our summary further below, we focus on those recommendations that are linked to Health and Care work visa.
- We recommend that the Government introduces a fully funded minimum rate of pay for care workers in England that is above the National Living Wage, where care is being provided through public funds. As a minimum starting point, we would recommend a level of £10.50 per hour to be implemented immediately.
- We recommend that workers in social care should be paid for the hours while at work, whether this is time spent travelling or sleeping. Whilst these hours are not being properly compensated, low paid workers are being underpaid for their time spent at work. Where care is being provided through public funds, those funds should increase to fully reflect the additional costs involved.
- We recommend the removal of the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for all Health and Care Worker (H&CW) visas. More broadly, it would be useful to separately conduct a full review of the ISC across the entire Skilled Worker (SW) route, which was introduced some years ago and there have been substantial changes in immigration policy and its objectives since that time.
- We recommend that the Government either conduct or commission research to identify administrative burdens for employers and workers that could be eliminated across the SW route.
- On balance, we recommend maintaining the current salary threshold for the H&CW visa.
- We maintain the recommendation that annual salary thresholds should not be prorated to allow for part-time work for migrants on the Health &Care visa.
- We do not recommend any changes to English language requirements for migrants on the H&CW route.
- We recommend that workers who spend the full five years working in nursing or care roles on the H&CW visa should either receive a complete settlement fee waiver or pay a lower fee, that is no higher than the unit cost of processing. The cost of this recommendation should not be passed on to other visa fees.
- We recommend that there should be a review of all visa application fees more broadly to ensure that fees are affordable for people on middle and low incomes.
- The MAC recommends that the decision to make care workers eligible for the H&CW visa should be made permanent, i.e., should not have an automatic sunset date.
- We recommend that the Government keep care workers on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) until the next SOL review is completed, when we will make a further recommendation.
- The MAC would encourage DHSC and the DAs to work with local authorities to support the development of the market for individuals to work with a care agency to sponsor a specific care worker.
- The Government could consider the introduction of a pilot umbrella scheme. Under the scheme, an umbrella body would be appointed to sponsor care workers from overseas and people who can show their level of need requires live-in care would be able to directly recruit from the umbrella body.
Conclusions on the MAC’s report on Adult Social Care
There are numerous publications on the staff shortages in UK adult care sector and on 15 December 2022, the House of Lords was scheduled to debate the staff issues in the NHS and social care sectors.
MAC has also been commissioned by the UK government in September 2022 to review Shortage Occupation List and this review is ongoing.
Care Workers and Home Carers (Soc Code 6145) are on the Shortage Occupation List since 15/02/2022 and are officially included in the List as a trial for a year only. However, In light of all the various reports, including the MAC’s April 2022 review, Care Workers are likely to remain on the Shortage List for the foreseeable future. However, Home Office decision confirming this has not yet been announced.