Independent inquiry to assess impact of ending free movement on adult social care

The Minister for Future Borders and Immigration writes to the Migration Advisory Committee asking for an independent review of adult social care and the impact of ending free movement.

09/07/21

Independent inquiry to assess impact of ending free movement on adult social care

Kevin Foster has written to Professor Brian Bell, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), requesting an independent review of the effect of ending free movement on the adult social care sector.

The move comes after the Government pledged a “timely and targeted review of adult social care” during the passage of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020.

Foster said he will work with the MAC to look at how ending free movement affects the adult social care workforce (such as skills shortages), visa options for social care workers, long-term consequences for workforce recruitment and training and employee terms and conditions.

“I ask you to consider the above points and provide recommendations on how to address the issues which the sector is experiencing with the immigration system and to highlight, where they arise within the scope of the review, wider issues for the Government’s consideration, such as employee terms and conditions,” Foster wrote.

Unusually, Foster requested that the report be seen by No.10, Department for Health and Social Care and the Home Office 48 hours ahead of it being laid before Parliament.

The Government will then consider the recommendations and determine the appropriate course of action to take where it relates to reserved matters. Where any recommendations relate to matters which are devolved, it will be the responsibility of the Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive to determine how these should be taken forward, Foster said.

Responding to the request, the MAC said the inquiry would be “a major piece of work on a complex and important issue.”

“The ending of freedom of movement, following the UK’s exit from the EU, has often been cited as being likely to have a negative impact on social care,” Professor Brian Bell said in a statement, adding that it would “consider the size and shape of this impact and potential mitigations, if required.”

As part of its response to the commission, the MAC says it will conduct a programme of engagement across the nations of the UK, with Governments, employers, social care workers and other interested parties. It added that it will run a public Call for Evidence “soon” to help us produce a report that reflects the wide range of views across the UK.

Given the complexity of the issues the MAC said it plans to make use of “expert advisors” on social care to assist it for the duration of the report. It added that it will need to “work closely” with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure it is aware of, and understands potential impacts of, any other changes to social care that are planned before it reports at the end of April 2022.

Bell also noted the request for pre-release access for the report.

“This is an unusual arrangement for MAC commissions, and whilst we are prepared, on this occasion, to make an exception in light of the commitments given – that this will be strictly time limited, will not influence the conclusions, or the MAC’s ability to publish at its discretion.”

“We expect all parties involved will respect the sensitivity of the MAC’s work on such an important subject during the pre-release period.”

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