Bell has written to the Home Secretary, highlighting the difficult situation faced by many migrant care workers and imploring the Government to grant them indefinite leave to remain.
Highlighting the case of Anugwom Goodluck, a Brighton-based care worker who was told to leave the country during the early stages of the pandemic, Bell points out the uncertainty hovering over many of the UK’s migrant care workers (who currently comprise 17% of the social care workforce).
According to Workforce Intelligence, there were 77,000 care worker vacancies in the UK as of October. With the sector grappling with rapid turnover and longstanding staff shortages, Bell has called on the Home Secretary to ensure care workers currently fighting the disease are able to stay in the country ahead of a likely second wave of infections.
The letter comes just weeks after the Government outlined its post-Brexit immigration plans, announcing a new “health and care visa”, which made no provision for care workers.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour Member of Parliament for Streatham, said:
“While the Government was failing to support UK care homes at the start of the pandemic, migrant care workers like Anugwom did their best to look after residents. Forcing them to leave the country is a shocking show of thanks.
“It’s even harder to understand the Home Office’s refusal to grant these care workers indefinite leave to remain given the chronic staff shortages in the wider care sector and the likely rise in COVID-19 infections this winter.”
- ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’, Workforce Intelligence (October 2019)
- ‘Brexit: UK’s new fast-track immigration system to exclude care workers’, The Guardian (13 July 2020)
- Text of letter below:
Dear Home Secretary,
I write on behalf of my constituents, who are calling on you to ensure migrant care workers can remain in the UK and continue with their vital work in the UK’s vastly understaffed social care sector.
Working under incredibly difficult conditions, migrant care workers have been a vital part of the UK’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It was therefore disappointing to see them excluded from the Government’s new “health and care” visa scheme. One in six of our care workers come from abroad, with many of them now facing uncertainty about their futures in this country.
The coronavirus crisis has thrown the situation in social care into stark relief. As you will be aware, the UK care sector faces a longstanding staffing shortage, currently estimated at around 122,000 (77,000 of which are care worker vacancies). It’s impossible to envisage a functioning social care sector that refuses to draw on the broadest possible pool of talent, less still one that fails to retain existing staff.
The case of 30-year-old Anugwom Izuchukwu Goodluck underscores the need for a drastic shift in policy. Working hard in a Brighton care home at the start of the crisis, Anugwom was told in March (at the start of the pandemic) that he needed to leave the UK, where all his family reside, and return to Nigeria. His new status left him unable to work and forced to move in with his mother. His case highlights the contradictory cruelty of the current situation. Sending care workers like Anugwom away makes no sense, given current staffing shortages and the likely second wave of coronavirus cases during flu season.
I was pleased to hear your recent commitment to a more “fair, humane, compassionate and outward-looking Home Office”. As part of this, I hope you will consider offering indefinite leave to remain to care workers like Anugwom, who have propped up our devastated social care sector during the current crisis.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham
For further information about this press release, please contact Ollie Collard, Communications Officer, Office of Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP at firstname.lastname@example.org.