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THE Home Office was slammed today for excluding social care workers for new health and care visas under the new post-Brexit immigration system to come into force in January.
Downing Street confirmed that social care workers will not qualify for the visa when EU freedom of movement ends.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that it was an “insult” to care workers on the front line of the care and coronavirus crisis.
“To exclude care workers from the health visa is a clear signal that this government does not appreciate the skill and dedication these roles involve,” he said.
PM Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the government wanted employers to “invest more in training” for care workers in Britain.
He said that councils have been provided with an additional £1.5 billion of funding for social care in 2021-22, and that there will be a new recruitment campaign.
The spokesman said that existing EU workers in the care sector could apply for leave to remain through the settlement scheme “and a very large number have done so.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel also outlined measures in the new post-Brexit points-based immigration system designed to cut the number of “low-skilled” migrants entering Britain while aiming to make it easier for “higher-skilled” workers to get visas.
People will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.
Points will be awarded for being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer and meeting a minimum salary threshold.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that keeping Britain open to workers was “even more vital” during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
University College Union general secretary Jo Grady criticised ministers’ “crude metrics-based approach” which shows that the government “clearly values earnings over ethics.”
And Unison’s Christina McAnea said: “Social care was in crisis long before the pandemic. Refusing to include care workers in the new NHS visa is a disastrous mistake that will make existing problems spiral.”
The immigration plans, which Mr Johnson described as “humane,” also include measures to ban people who have been sentenced to at least 12 months in prison from entering Britain.
The change would mean that EU citizens must be treated the same as those from non-EU countries.
Currently, convicted criminals from the EU can only be excluded on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone already in Britain who has been sentenced to at least a year in prison “must be considered for deportation,” the policy document adds.
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