Migration Advisory Committee report
MAC recently published their review on social care – has it gone far enough?
In July 2021, the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to “undertake an independent review of adult social care, and the impact the ending freedom of movement has had on the sector”. Following a specific brief, the MAC carried out an extensive programme of work through stakeholder engagement, data analysis, primary research and a call for evidence to be submitted, all of which has led to the comprehensive report published in April 2022.
SIA engaged heavily with MAC during this process, meeting virtually with them on three occasions and submitting a formal response to the call for evidence. We did so to provide our view on the care support crisis and the impact of the ending of free movement, and to focus the MAC on understanding the very specific care needs of spinal cord injured (SCI) people, and in particular the impact the ending of free movement has had on those people who require live-in care workers.
We were delighted to see evidence in the report that MAC had listened to us and understood our concerns and the underlying issues, but were left feeling somewhat disappointed by the language around a real solution to the issue of live-in care workers. Everything now depends on what the Home Office do, and MAC have regrettably given them a real choice rather than the firm recommendation on Home Office sponsorship that they gave in December 2021.
Previous MAC reports have highlighted some of the many challenges that the care sector faces, including increasing demand for care, high vacancy and turnover rates, low pay rates with little pay progression, and poor terms and conditions compared to competing occupations. This latest report notes that these issues predate the ending of freedom of movement, and have largely been compounded by the pandemic, but that the underlying cause of these workforce difficulties is due to the underfunding of the social care sector.
MAC don’t believe that immigration policy is the cause of, or the solution to, the workforce problems in social care, but they are quite clear that a favourable approach to immigration could potentially help to alleviate some of the difficulties, at least in the short term.
Nik Hartley, our CEO said:
“We are slightly disheartened by the MAC report, which lacks firm recommendations to ease the crisis faced by disabled people who employ health and care workers directly. The report shines a dramatic light on the current lack of skilled careers in our country, with the report stating, ‘a further 66,000 are needed to fulfil demand today, and a further 236,000 to keep up with the growing care need.
“Progress has been made in the recognition of the need to grow the care force in the UK generally by boosting the minimum pay and creating a coherent recruitment campaign. Yet, the recommendation of a pilot umbrella scheme, where an umbrella body would appoint sponsor care workers from overseas for people who require live-in care to choose from, takes away an element of choice.
“The urgency and vigour to press the government to make these changes is lacking, and I worry that any changes that do come from the recommendations may be watered down or take too long to ease the current care shortage SCI people are already living with right now.”