Social care sector "in grave danger" because of health visa exclusion - Munira Wilson

13 July 2020, 18:15

By Seán Hickey

This Lib Dem MP feared that cutting off the supply of social care workers from the EU with the new "health visa" rules would put the sector in grave danger.

Munira Wilson is the Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care spokesperson. She joined Eddie Mair amid the government's release of post-Brexit immigration plans, which exclude social care workers from applying for a "health visa" which stops thousands of workers coming to the UK in January.

"This policy frankly is an insult to all our brave care workers who've done so much for us through the pandemic and is essentially branding them as unskilled and unwanted in this country." Said Ms Wilson, clearly disgusted by the policy.

Ms Wilson pointed out that 87,000 social care workers in the UK are from the EU, and one in four care workers in London are from the EU.

She argued that "turning off that labour supply from the EU overnight is going to put the system...into grave danger after it's already been rocked by the pandemic."

Ms Wilson put forward measures the Lib Dems wanted for social care workers such as higher wages. She pointed out that "you can earn more stacking shelves in Tesco than you can as a care worker" and this is where government resources should be focussed rather than putting further strain on the industry.

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Eddie asked Ms Wilson "what about respecting the result of the referendum" in terms of slowing the amount of people coming into the country to work.

The Lib Dem MP acknowledged that "there will be a need to change the immigration rules" but the news nevertheless "spells a disaster for the care sector."

She argued that the policy will see massive shortages in the social care workforce and wondered "how are we going to reproduce that workforce overnight."

Ms Wilson told Eddie that "nobody wants to see their elderly parents or disabled children left without adequate care because we can't find the workforce here in the UK" and the government's plan runs the risk of "potentially pushing this sector off a cliff overnight."