Social care pressures ‘result of funding issues - not European migration’

19 Sep 18

Problems affecting the social care sector are not related to European migration but rather reflect the lack of a sustainable funding model, an expert report commissioned by the government has concluded.

Yesterday, the Migration Advisory Committee published its final report on the impact of migration from the European Economic Area, including the effects on public services and public finances.

The document, commissioned by then home secretary Amber Rudd in July 2017, concluded that EEA migrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

Although, it also said it was “not convinced” that attention was sufficiently focused on ensuring funds were available to manage the impacts of immigration.

On social care, the committee - an independent public body that advises the governmenton on migration policy - noted that the sector struggles to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of workers and that demand for services was “rising inexorably”.

“It’s basic underlying problem is that poor terms and conditions paid to workers in this sector, in turn caused by the difficulty in finding a sustainable funding model,” the report stated.

It added that sufficient and sustainable funding for social care, which allowed “competitive wages” to be paid to UK residents, would solve many of the recruitment problems.

“Unless working in social care becomes more desirable to UK workers, chiefly through higher wages, migrant workers will be necessary to continue delivering these services,” the report.

“The factors that make working in social care unattractive for UK residents are also likely to make it unattractive to migrants who may look to change sector at the first opportunity even if hired to work in social care.”

Responding to the report, the Cavendish Coalition, which brings together health and social care bodies to consider Brexit-related issues, said it was “pleased” the report highlighted the social care funding crisis.

Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the coalition, said: “It would be completely unacceptable to allow vital social care services to close under the strain of not having the people required to provide good care, and so we welcome the recognition that sustainable funding would drive improved pay and conditions – and make this sector a much more attractive place to work.”

The MAC found that EEA migrants contribute much more to the NHS and social care in financial resources and the work they provide than what they use in services. 

While EEA workers were an increasing share of the health and social care workforce, the sectors employ greater numbers of non-EEA migrants, the committee found. 

In education, the report said there was no evidence that migration had reduced parental choice in schools or the educational achievements of UK children. 

The report also noted that migrants were only a small proportion of people in social housing but a rising fraction of new tenants, with the number of new tenancies going to people from new member state rising particularly.

“Given there is little building of new social housing this is inevitably at the expense of other potential tenants,” the report said.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and

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