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Our meeting with the Migration Advisory Committee

We are aware of member’s concerns about the impact ending freedom of movement has on availability of live-in carers and so were delighted to be asked to submit evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee review

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an influential group that advises the Government on migration issues. They are independent and work across government to provide transparent and evidence-based advice, whilst taking into account that migration has different effects on different groups of people. The work of the MAC has been more high-profile than usual recently, given the well-reported shortages of workers in roles that would previously have been (at least in part) filled by overseas workers before the ending of freedom of movement after Brexit.

In summer 2021, Kevin Foster MP, the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, commission the MAC to undertake an independent review of the adult social care, and in particular the impact the ending freedom of movement has had on the sector. The Minister asked for recommendations on how to address the issues which the sector is experiencing with the immigration system, and to also highlight any wider issues for the Government’s consideration such as employee terms and conditions. The MAC was asked to produce its report by April 2022.

We were delighted to be invited to submit evidence to the review and met with Professor Brian Bell (chair of MAC) and Professor Jo Swaffield and Madeleine Sumption MBE (both MAC members) in September. Our main aim was to focus the MAC’s attention on our concerns about the availability of live-in carers and personal assistants for SCI people, as these roles were previously often filled by overseas workers, and the huge difficulties in accessing social care workers generally. In preparation for this, we sought the views of our members to establish their personal experiences, and spoke to several care agencies to understand their perspective on the crisis in social care.

We are arguing for a new and distinct immigration route, so that individual SCI people can continue to have the option of directly employing their health and social care workers from overseas. This is badly needed; vacancies for these essential jobs are hard to fill because of the unique nature of the employment (including the frequent need for carers to live in the home of their employer) and finding the right care support is essential to many SCI peoples wellbeing, empowering them to work, study, travel, and flourish.

The meeting with MAC was a great success, and we will be working with them on an ongoing basis to help them understand the issues and develop practical and constructive solutions. We really felt they were sympathetic to our concerns about live-in carers and personal assistants and seemed keen to properly understand the sector and the issues it faces. In this regard, we were delighted to have an SIA member at the meeting to give a personal perspective account to the MAC. Lynda’s story perfectly illustrated the devastating impact of the ending of free movement, and her account of the direct impact of a lack of carers on her and her family was hugely powerful and moving.