Labour slams government as fast-track visa plans exclude care workers

Elliot Chappell

Nick Thomas-Symonds has slammed the government for its failure to include care workers in plans for a post-Brexit fast-track visa system for health workers.

The Shadow Home Secretary took to social media this afternoon, responding to the publication of a document detailing how the new points-based system will operate when it comes into force on January 1st next year.

He tweeted that the paper released this morning shows that “the Tories do not consider carers as skilled workers”, and asked: “What does this government have against care workers?” He added that Labour will be “seeking urgent clarification”.

Commenting on the government’s release this morning, Thomas-Symonds said: “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 added: “Frankly, it is yet another insult from this Tory party to those who have been at the frontline of this crisis.”

The 130-page document states that the government “welcomes the vital contributions which doctors, nurses and other health professionals from overseas make to the NHS and wider health and care sector”, outlining a special visa.

A “health and care visa” is described with “reduced” application fees and dedicated support enabling fast-track entry to the country – but it does not include care workers in the list of occupations specified.

The applicants for this visa would also need to reach the salary requirement for a skilled worker of £25,600. The average wage for someone working in the sector is currently £16,500 per year.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that “we want employers to invest more in training and development for care workers in this country”, and that “immigration is not the sole answer here”.

The plan to introduce a points-based system for immigration in the UK was initially set out in February this year, before the crisis, but the government has continued to push the legislation through parliament during the pandemic.

The Shadow Home Secretary warned in May that the immigration bill with a salary requirement of £25,600 – more than many key workers earn – sends a signal to those workers that they are “unskilled and unwelcome”.

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