Immigration restrictions could mean 380,000 new social care jobs needed to keep up with the UK's ageing population
A new report from think-tank Global Future has claimed that Brexit could had a significant impact on the number of adult social care workers in the UK.
Analysing figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), restricting or ending freedom of movement after Brexit could result in over 100,000 fewer workers by 2026, and a 26% rise in the ratio of over 75s to care workers.
According to the think-tank’s findings, 17% of England’s social care staff is from overseas, the equivalent of 222,000 workers. Although the number of non-EU care workers has been gradually declining since 2012 due to immigration controls, the decline has been offset by an increase from inside the EU.
Currently, England has 90,000 unfilled social care vacancies, as well as a vacancy rate of 6.6%; more than double the 2.5% rate for the labour market. Meanwhile, the social care sector has a net increase of British workers of just 18,000 per year.
Global Future warns that if similar controls are applied to EU workers, the number of care staff in England will drop by 115,000 by 2026.
Additionally, the UK would need 380,000 more social care jobs without free movement, in order to care for the country’s ageing population, as the report cites ONS projections that by 2026 the UK will have 1.5 million more people aged 75+.
“Ending free movement after Brexit would cause a social care workforce crisis,” said Peter Starkings, Global Future’s Director. “Social care is already overstretched, and cutting the number of care staff by 100,000 would have a direct impact on the quality of life of elderly and disabled people.
“Low-skilled workers from the EU are an easy target for politicians, but we rely on them to do vital jobs supporting our elderly and disabled loved ones in care homes and in the community. Without them our social care system would quite simply be unable to function.”
Earlier in the year, Knight Frank estimated that residential care home closures would create a shortfall of 148,777 beds by 2021.