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In this follow up to ILC-UK's 2015 report ‘Moved to Care’, jointly produced with Independent Age, we update our analysis of the future workforce shortages in adult social care in England to take account of the EU referendum result of the 23rd June.

The report finds that any changes to migration policy post-Brexit could have serious implications for the adult social care workforce. In a zero net migration scenario, the social care workforce ‘gap’ could reach as high as 1.1 million workers by 2037, meaning there would be 13.5 older people for every care worker - each social care worker would be expected to support 13.5 older people – compared to 7 today . This is a workforce gap which, by 2037, is 100,000 workers larger than our worst predictions pre-EU referendum.

Even in the more likely low-migration scenario (set slightly above the Government immigration target of ‘tens of thousands’ each year) there will be a social care workforce gap of more than 750,000 people by 2037.

The ILC-UK and Independent Age also found that:

  • More than 90% of the EEA migrants currently working in social care (78,000 of around 84,000) currently do not have British citizenship – meaning they are at significant risk of changes to their immigration status following Brexit.
  • Only 5.2% of EEA migrant professionals working in social care currently have British citizenship.

Our analysis also reveals that recruitment and retention in the social care sector continues to be a significant problem. The vacancy rates and turnover in the social care workforce rose further in 2016 to 24.3% and 5.3% respectively – indicating it remains very difficult to retain existing staff, and recruit new ones.

This problem could dramatically worsen post-Brexit. Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of migrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) in the social care workforce. While in Among migrants who currently work in the adult social care sector and arrived in England in 20041995, 80% of social care migrant workers came from outsidewere born outside the EEA, ; by comparison, workers from the EEA now make up 80% of migrants working in social care  workers who arrived in 2016 were born in the EEA.

Any restrictions to the migration status of EEA citizens would be very likely to strikingly reduce the number of EEA migrants working in the social care sector, making it even harder to recruit and retain social care staff.

The impact of these changes on older and disabled people who rely on social care to remain independent and live fulfilling lives is likely to be profoundly negative.

To avoid this outcome, we build upon the recommendations of our previous report, to increase the attractiveness of the social care sector and ensure immigration policy reflects the needs of the older and disabled people who rely on social care for their independence.

For more information, visit https://www.independentage.org/policy-research/research-reports/brexit-and-future-of-migrants-social-care-workforce

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