LONDON — The U.K.’s Home Office should relax visa rules introduced after Brexit to ease the recruitment of care workers from overseas, the department’s own migration advisers said.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said Wednesday that care workers should be able to apply for a U.K. Health and Care visa, and be added to the U.K. Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which sets out professions suffering from shortages for which the advisers judge migration is a sensible solution.
Both policy changes are needed “given the severe and increasing difficulties” the social care sector is facing in recruiting and retaining workers, the MAC said in its annual report, adding that easing immigration rules could “potentially help to alleviate the difficulties” in the short term.
The recommendation follows the preliminary findings from an independent review the committee is carrying out on the effect ending free movement with the EU after Brexit is having on the social care sector.
The Home Office placed senior care workers on the list in March, but opposed adding the rest of the profession, instead calling on employers to find new recruits among those already in the country.
The MAC also advised the department to review its ban on employment for asylum seekers. Under current rules, asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the U.K. while their claims are pending. If after a year they are still waiting for a decision, they can apply for permission to work in jobs on the SOL.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said he would be “open-minded” about lifting the ban, but Home Secretary Priti Patel counters it would make the U.K. more attractive for undocumented migrants.
Brian Bell, the MAC chair and economist at King’s College London, told reporters that the Home Office has not published any evidence to support that claim.