With the UK about to exit the European Union, the Migration Advisory Committee will investigate several factors ahead of the leave date of March 31, 2019. The inquiry will assess the role of EU migrant workers and which sectors are most reliant on them. The Government has promised a ‘transitional period’ post March 2019 so no employer will face “falling off a cliff edge.”
The factors to be assessed include whether British workers are at a disadvantage compared to cheaper labour from the EU. Do EU workers actually cost the UK billions in health care costs and benefits? Or are EU workers an important part of the UK workforce and fill gaps in vital services in Health and Social Care?
Many care providers across the country have voiced concerns about the impact of Brexit in their area identifying that the sectors of adult social care and health could be particular vulnerabilities if the EU workforce is reduced or lost.
It is clear that EU workers account for one in 15 workers. They also contribute a sizeable amount to the economy, having paid £2.5bn more in income tax and national insurance than they received in tax credits or child benefits in 2013-14. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that their labour contribution helps grow the economy by an additional 0.6% a year.
The Social Care sector relies even more on non-UK nationals to keep services working. Nearly one in five care workers were born outside of the UK (approximately 266,000 people), of whom 28% were born in the EU. There was a particularly sharp increase in the number of migrant workers in the social care sector between 2011 and 2015: 40% of EU workers arrived during this period
However, according to Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, the Government is committed to continuing to allow those who add value to the country to come to Britain. She stressed that:
“We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally,” she says, “but, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”
Official statistics show net long-term immigration by EU citizens at 133,000, a fall of more than a quarter on 2015.
Rudd says the migration study will be a chance for businesses and employers to express their honest opinions, independently of the government. However, there will be little time to act on its findings – after it reports in 2018 there are just seven months until Britain leaves the EU.
From that point on, EU citizens from other member states will have to apply for immigration status. Some think-tanks have called for sector-by-sector rules to allow foreign workers to enter some industries but be barred from others where there is sufficient supply within the UK.
In conclusion, it is vital that all care providers express their opinions and concerns to this independent review to ensure that their voice is heard.
For more information please contact Kashif Majeed, Aston Brooke Solicitors.
t: 0203 475 4321