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Approximately 1.75 million people work in Social Care across the UK. The majority employed by the 25,000 care providers who assist an ever-growing number the people requiring support. As a sector social care contributes £38.5 Billion to the economy in England alone. A figure which continues to rise as the size of the population over 65 requiring support grows. The National Audit Office analysis of Health Survey England 2016 estimated that 43% of those aged over 85 required support, yet only 20% received it.

The reason for this is obvious when you learn there are over 110,000 care vacancies, and a turnover of more than 390,000 (30.7%) per year within the sector. This crisis in recruiting staff impacts those wanting to be discharged from hospital and those at home awaiting a care package.

The Office for National Statistics said Britain’s jobless rate fell to a fresh low of 3.9% in the three months to January, down from 4% a month earlier, the lowest point since the start of 1975.

Given over 104,000 EU nationals and 129,000 non-EU nationals work within the sector, can we be complaisant about the impact Brexit and a points-based immigration policy will have? Only by opening discussing the scenarios can providers plan for worst and hope for the best.

A NO-DEAL BREXIT would mean no transition period, and businesses, organisations and public bodies would have to respond immediately to changes. The Government has already stated that there will no radical change to employment law after Brexit and has already begun preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit EU, EEA or Swiss citizens, and their family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal you will need to be living in the UK before it leaves the EU to apply. The deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020. If their application is successful, they will get either a settled or pre-settled status, allowing you to continue to employ them.

A new Immigration Act modelled upon a points-based system has already been in discussion for many years. Only this week the Prime Minister reiterated his support for such a system post Brexit. With the UK government’s announcement on 19 August that European Union (EU) “free movement” rules will end immediately if there is a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit on 31 October 2019, new immigration restrictions become more likely.

The immediate impact for employers would include:

  • Priority given to high-skilled migrants
  • An end to free movement and preferential access for EU citizens
  • British citizens being encouraged to fill vacancies in social and health care

The risk to the social care sector is that visas may only apply to skilled workers with a salary in excess of £30,000. The average salary for a full time (40 Hours) social care worker in England is £9.10 per hour, less than £19,000 per annum. Currently the most needed group of workers would fall outside of the proposed immigration salary threshold.

Developing a Brexit plan

With Care Homes and Care at Home providers trying to fill vacancies there are several steps you should consider adding to your Brexit plan.

  1. Retention – As difficulties arise in recruitment it will be come more important than ever to retain staff. For those who are EU nationals support in early application to the settlement scheme should be a priority.
  2. Recruitment – Consider a specialist applicant tracking system (ATS). With a diminishing pool of staff, getting applicants from interest to employment quickly and before your competitors will be paramount.
  3. Compliance – Ensure you do not fall foul of the changes in immigration legislation and the penalties for employing staff who do not have the right to work in the UK. Whichever ATS you choose, ensure you have a Visa requirement and Document check embedded within it. This will help you comply with the Home Office, C.I and CQC.
  4. Operational Matters – Many councils are already stock pilling fuel in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Ensure all staff within your company are registered as priority users, gaining them access to fuel in an emergency. Review documents and policies that require amendment post Brexit.
  5. Supplies – Medication to continence aids come from the EU. The government has already stated stockpile these, however, there remains a real risk of disruption to supply. Where possible ensure a regular supply is agreed with your pharmacy and if needed consider alternative medications or products in advance with the GP. This will allow you to swap quickly in the event of disruption.
  6. Referrals – Many of the key roles within the NHS, Councils and HSCP are filled by professionals from the EU. These organisations will also be recruiting hard to replace leavers and fill future vacancies. Not only will this impact independent care providers recruitment it may also cause delays in assessments and discharges.

Conclusion

Whilst many will find no difference post Brexit, key areas of the country who have historically relied on EU nationals will be impacted. No matter which area you fall into it is always better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. For those who need assistance with recruitment then Novacare consultancy may be covered under the Governments prepare for Brexit grant.

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