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Care worker sponsor system allowed abuses, official report finds

The Home Office has accepted recommendations made in a report claiming breaches in the care worker sponsor licence system.

However, in an official response, it has clarified some of the statistics suggesting suspicious activity. 

The report, An inspection of the immigration system as it relates to the social care sector (August 2023 to November 2023) concludes that the sponsor licence application process was not sufficiently robust to identify individuals who intended to abuse the system.

The report finds that overall, the refusal rate for sponsor licence applications made by organisations from the ‘Human Health and Social Work Activities’ sector between February 2022 and October 2023 was only 1.5 per cent, in spite of the widespread abuse of the route reported by the Home Office and in various media outlets.  

In one notable case, a company which stole the identity of a real care home successfully applied for a licence and subsequently obtained 275 certificates of sponsorship (CoS).

In another case, a company applied for a licence stating that it had four employees and was subsequently assigned 1,234 CoS over a period of just 15 months despite providing little justification of its need for workers.  In response to criticism that insufficient scrutiny was paid to the initial decision making or subsequent requests for CoS allocations, the Home Office states that 1,014 of these CoS have subsequently been referred for cancellation.

The Home Office has accepted the report’s recommendations and says its response “is under constant review”.

In mitigation, it says that immigration checks on care workers was undertaken “during a time when the department was under immense pressure coordinating large scale resettlement efforts for Ukrainians who had been displaced due to the Russian invasion”.

Commenting, Nadra Ahmed CBE, executive chairman of National Care Association said: “This report reveals the full extent of the failings. Despite warnings from across the sector, the checks and balances required were not put into place.”

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