The care sector is reliant on EU workers, in some parts of the country more than others, and it is likely that a number of those without a properly regularised immigration status could see an impact on the sector’s ability to provide adequate levels of staffing to residents and patients. As we head to the exit of the European Union it is somewhat troubling that by the end of July 2020 there were approximately 275,000 EU citizens who have not yet been granted leave to remain within the UK post the 1 January 2021 deadline.
The argument remains that there are a greater proportion of non-EU workers within the care sector at 9% in comparison to the EU figure of 8%. But the ease upon which workers from the EU were able to work within the UK historically is coming to an end and it remains to be seen whether workers from outside of the EU (inclusive of UK citizens) will fill the gap that may be left in the absence of EU workers.
The Government continues to be lobbied to in order to make it easier for EU citizens’ rights to be confirmed as a matter of course. Given the need for staff to fill vacant roles the sector does not need any more hurdles to be placed before it attracting employees.
It is difficult to predict what is likely to happen to occupancy levels within the care sector and whether such levels are likely to return to the pre-covid picture in publicly or privately funded placements. If confidence returns strongly to the sector this could place increased burdens on providers to staff their homes to meet increased demand in the absence of the historically more readily available care workers from the EU.