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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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HomeCulture WarScandal of the social care migrants who break the rules

Scandal of the social care migrants who break the rules

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A QUARTER of foreigners who arrived here to be care workers are abusing UK visa rules by working illegally in other industries, the outgoing chief inspector of borders and immigration has revealed.

The social care visa route was introduced two years ago to help plug chronic labour shortages in the industry. David Neal’s report exposes jaw-dropping details: the Home Office issued 275 visas to a care home that didn’t even exist. Another 1,234 visas were granted to a company that claimed to have only four workers when it got its licence to recruit care workers from overseas. That’s more than 1,500 migrants who’ve slipped through the cracks, pretending to be care workers. We suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Neal said that his inspectors encountered migrants with care visas working illegally in two out of eight enforcement visits between August and October last year. If replicated nationally it would mean that about 25,000 of the 101,316 people granted a social care visa in the year to September 2023 would have been working in other sectors illegally.

The social care visa was meant to plug a ‘labour gap’ in the care sector, but it’s been hijacked by opportunists for their own gain. It’s turned into a back door for low-skilled workers from poor countries to move to Britain intent on settling in the UK with their families. The result has been chaos, with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority launching 17 investigations into the care sector last year.

Moreover, residents of care homes have been let down by low-quality staff. In one case, an elderly woman died because the staff couldn’t communicate properly with emergency services about a stair lift accident.

When government cedes authority and oversight of recruitment to employers and to agents in countries where corruption is rife, the system is bound to break down. The naivety of the Home Office to think this wouldn’t happen in countries like Nigeria is even more worrying than the abuse itself.  That this could pose a risk to patients’ lives wasn’t foreseen is truly scandalous.

The government has promised to fix things by stopping care workers from bringing dependants and making sure sponsors are better regulated. But the Migration Advisory Committee says the only real solution is to pay British care workers higher salaries. It might sound strange, but boosting wages for our own workers could actually be cheaper in the long-run than importing tens of thousands of foreign workers. It would ease the pressure on housing and infrastructure, improve the retention of staff and improve the quality of care.

This government and its predecessors going back to 2010 promised to cut immigration. Not only have they done the opposite but have done it intentionally. Migration Watch warned in 2018, 2019 and 2020, when the future immigration system was being discussed, what the consequences of looser control (i.e. lower qualification and salary thresholds, no local advertising of jobs, no limits, employers and universities given a free hand to bring as many people as they wished and so on) would be. Well, the chickens are, spectacularly, coming home to roost.

Meanwhile David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, will leave his role next month after Downing Street blocked his reappointment, a decision that breaks with convention after his predecessors were all given two three-year terms.

He seems to have been sacked because he took his job seriously. It seems he was axed for daring to expose the chaotic mess that Britain’s immigration system is in.  He ‘breached the terms of his appointment and lost the confidence of the Home Secretary’. In other words, he did his job properly.

Neal’s social care report it is one of 13 reports that he has submitted in the past year that remain unpublished by the Home Office. 

Migration Watch’s questions to the Home Office are simple ones: why won’t you publish Mr Neal’s reports? Why have you sat on them for so long? Are there problems detailed in the reports that you don’t want the public to know about? Are our borders and immigration enforcement so out of control that security and public safety are at serious risk? Mr Neal says this is ‘a scandal, and incredibly dangerous for this country’s border security’. Is this correct? We have a right to know, Mr Cleverly.   

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Alp Mehmet
Alp Mehmet
Chairman of Migration Watch UK, former British diplomat.

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