Campaigners say a Government decision to deny overseas care workers a visa to work in Britain has robbed the social care sector of vital staff to look after older and vulnerable people.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the Government has ignored the vital role social care staff play and the recruitment crisis the sector is facing.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham says that in the last few months social care has demonstrated the vital role it plays in caring for people in this country. “But that has been ignored in today’s announcement,” he says.
“In granting this visa to NHS workers but not to social care workers the Government has again demonstrated how it treats social care as the poor relation. We hoped that might have changed but clearly it hasn’t.
“For the Government to say that people already here can remain and provide “really important care to the elderly and the vulnerable” but then say no more can come, beggars belief.”
He adds that the announcement hastens the need to merge the two together so that both can be treated equally.
Around 1.6m people work in social care, but estimates suggest that the country will need an extra 650,000 by 2035, to cope with demand.
The ICG says there are currently more than 100,000 care vacancies and that demand will soon outstrip supply.
According to Skills for Care, some 115,000 EU nationals work in care and 134,000 people from outside the EU.
“If we cannot recruit from within and outside the EU, then where are the people to fill the vacancies and meet future demand going to come from,” adds Padgham.
“This has not been thought through and is another kick in the teeth for social care.”