Blog: The final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system

Curbing the migrant care workforce will cause utter disaster

Christina McAnea, arms folded, in front of conference stage - 'Fighting for our future'

The government has put the final hammer blow to our crumbling social care system. The home secretary’s announcement of new immigration plans will sacrifice migrant care workers and risk a total collapse of the UK’s care system, just to appease extremist Tory backbenchers.

The health and care visa was introduced in 2020 to plug workforce gaps, but because headlines of soaring immigration numbers are compounding Rishi Sunak’s polling problems, he’s playing roulette with our essential services.

Had he, or his ministers, spoken to any employer in the care sector, they would know that any plans to curb the migrant care workforce will cause utter disaster. Not allowing migrant care workers to bring any dependants with them to the UK, will do exactly that. Potential recruits will be put off coming to the UK, and the ones already here may have to send dependants home when their visas come up for renewal.

Staff vacancies will soar from the current number of 152,000, and I don’t see a queue of British workers waiting to take up those posts. We will see care homes closing and care companies going bust.

UNISON had just released findings of appalling abuse of the migrant workers propping up social care, in its report Expendable Labour. These new plans will leave migrant care workers vulnerable to more abuse, as they can only come to the UK isolated, with no close family with them.

Finally, everyone in the UK can see what little regard this government has for the people who rely on social care, for care workers and their employers. But why would government ministers be so careless with people’s lives and so reckless with one of the biggest industries in the UK?

Maybe it’s because its workforce is predominantly low-paid women, doing work they view as low value and low intelligence. This was made clear yesterday by the home secretary in his announcement in the House of Commons.

While migrant care workers won’t be allowed to bring family with them to the UK, he said that international students coming to the UK on postgraduate research programmes could bring dependants, because, as he said, “we always want to attract the global brightest and best”.

I find the stirring of culture wars and spouting of anti-immigrant rhetoric sickening. I’ve clashed with characters from the far right on TV recently and when they talk about ‘British culture’, I’m left confused. Because I always thought we were a country that strived to be caring and welcoming. But what’s more callous than putting our older and vulnerable citizens at risk and being hostile to the people who come here to care for them.