Expansion of Health and Care Visa leads to exploitation risk

August 2023 Home Office datasets show that currently more than twice as many workers are being recruited through the Health and Care Worker visa route than into all other Skilled Worker visa roles in all other sectors in the UK:

2021 Q12021 Q22021 Q32021 Q42022 Q12022 Q22022 Q32022 Q42023 Q1
Skilled Worker4,6807,22811,87313,02413,94817,11319,57117,39415,965
Health & Care6,6445,8998,72711,29012,99417,52223,06327,18938,043

The House of Lords library paper Staff shortages in the NHS and social care sectors reports an NHS vacancy rate of 9.7% or 133,446 together with 165,000 vacancies in adult social care.  The only short term measure to solve such a shortage is through immigration and this is the route the government has taken. The quarterly number of people coming to work in the UK with a Health and Care Worker visa has tripled between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023 due to the route having been opened to unskilled care workers and care assistants from February 2022. The top three countries for health and care visas issued in the latest year are from India (30k), Nigeria (18k) and Zimbabwe (17k).

With this expansion come reports of exploitation Modern slavery gangmasters exploit care worker shortage and questioning of the numbers being recruited Call for rethink as care worker visas now make up two-thirds of those in health and care scheme.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has opened a call for evidence, An inspection of the immigration system as it relates to the social care sector and invites anyone with knowledge and experience of the interaction between the UK immigration system and the social care sector to submit evidence to inform an inspection in this area by September 11. The Chief Inspector has written to the ALP inviting a submission to which the ALP will respond. Anyone with relevant information is invited to contact the ALP.

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