A government concession to ensure social care is not disrupted by restrictions on work permits for overseas staff could prove ineffectual, it has emerged.
The Home Office said last week that existing senior care workers from outside the European Economic Area could renew their work permits without meeting the minimum skills criteria for a permit – so long as they were earning £7.02 an hour. New applicants would be barred due to Home Office claims – contested by employers – that nearly all such posts did not meet the criteria, which require applicants to have three years’ experience in an S/NVQ level three role.
But figures from Skills for Care’s National Minimum Data Set for Social Care show that the median wage for senior care workers across the country is £6.15 an hour – and just 20% earn £7 or more, meaning few existing permit holders will qualify for a renewal.
Residential and domiciliary care employers, along with trade union Unison, attacked the refusal to issue new permits and extensions to senior care workers.
The concession on permit renewals followed lobbying from the Department of Health, Skills for Care and employers, warning of the impact of the departure of so many staff. The Home Office said the £7.02 rate was designed to ensure salaries reflect the skills required for the role.
But Bill McClimont, vice-president of the United Kingdom Home Care Association, said the fees paid by councils to providers made the rate unaffordable outside the South East.
This was backed by Mandy Thorn, who runs a nursing home and represents care home body the National Care Association on the work permits healthcare advisory panel.
She said: “In the Midlands where the average rate for a nursing home is £435 a week there’s no way you can pay a senior care worker £7.02 an hour.”
Essential informaiton on the social care workforce