CARE homes and home care agencies in Gwent could be put out of business as a result of the new 'points-based' immigration system announced by the UK Government, sector leaders have warned.

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, has called on home secretary Priti Patel not to “close the door” on overseas workers at a time when the sector has already been struggling to recruit new employees.

The new system - set to come into force in January 2021 - will aim to end visas for low-skilled workers and cut the overall number of migrants coming to the UK.

But Ms Patel is facing calls to grant special exemptions for those working in the social care sector in a bid to stave off staff shortages.

According to Mr Kreft, the social care sector across Wales is facing a massive crisis - with a huge shortfall of staff by the year 2026.


“It is clear that these proposals will have dire consequences for the social care sector and, more importantly, for the vulnerable people we look after," he said.

“In recent years we have seen homes closing across Wales because their fragile finances just did not stack up because social care remains chronically underfunded despite it being such an important service.

“On top of that we are having to contend with a debilitating recruitment crisis which will be even worse unless the government have a change of heart in relation to social care.

“The way fees are calculated means that it is possible to earn more stacking shelves in a supermarket than it is to provide social care for our loved ones."

He added: “We need to explode the myth that social care staff are low skilled – that’s not true. They are just lower paid and that’s not fair.

“The new rules just do not make sense when you apply them to social care.”

Sanjiv Joshi, managing director of the Caron Group, which runs the Plasgeller Care Home in Brynmawr, said: “Since the immigration rules changed a few years ago recruiting from abroad has come to a virtual standstill.

“Not having an additional source of overseas staff has impacted us significantly and has certainly contributed to smaller homes closing down in our surrounding areas.

“Our local recruitment is strong but attrition rates tend to be high as the pool of staff in Gwent is small, leading to recurring shortages.”

Mr Kreft added: “One unintended consequence will be that it will place even more pressure on an already creaking NHS.

“Our social care providers currently underpin the provision in our hospitals but if more care homes, nursing homes and home care companies are forced out of business, alternative provision will have to be made for them.

“In that case it’s s highly likely that these vulnerable people will end up in hospital when that is probably the worst possible place for them to be, leading to even more bed blocking.”