Richard Banks looks ahead to this year’s Skills for Care conference where the focus will be on recruitment and retention of the social care workforce.
David Mowat MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, voted as did most Conservative MPs, against guaranteeing EU citizens rights to stay in the UK ahead of the ‘Article 50’ negotiations. If passed the amendment would have ensured that all EU citizens legally living in the UK on 23 June 2016 (the date of the EU referendum) would have their right to stay and work protected.
Across the UK EU nationals comprise around 4.95% of the staff in NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups, and 5% of the UK social care workforce. In England, there are 1.43 million people in the social care workforce – The Cavendish Coalitionestimate that there are 90,000 EU nationals in employment – this is around 7 % of social care workforce. 
So, 90,000 people working in England in social care are now uncertain of their future as social care workers and as residents, along with their families, of the UK. Horrible for them and how can any of us imagine how we might reassure our relatives supported and cared for by these people?
The social care sector in England has difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff; there are about 90,000 job vacancies. All indications are that the need for increased levels of social care support will require a continued growth in the workforce.
Respect and support for the social care workforce might be the least one might expect from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care sadly this has not been the case. Recently, in attempting to dodge responsibility for the Government’s social care funding crisis, David Mowat blamed uncaring families. In doing so he not only insulted families but also implied that social care was an unskilled occupation that any family member might do. With the EU amendment vote last week he went further and completely dismissed the importance of 90,000 social care staff.
So, it will be interesting to hear what messages David Mowat will have when he speaks at the Skills for Care Conference entitled Recruitment and retention: the road to success (Thursday 9 March in Liverpool). Social care conference participants are remarkably unmoved by banal government representatives (almost as if they expect no better). Let’s hope that on this occasion David Mowat can explain how he has a plan to support social care recruitment and retention. He might even manage to show some respect for the social care workforce who surely are an example for the Conservative slogan of being for ‘hard working people’
Evidence to the SUBMISSION TO HOUSE OF LORDS EU INTERNAL MARKET SUB-COMMITTEE https://www.adass.org.uk/media/5653/cavendish-coalition-house-of-lords-inquiry-eu-internal-market-sub-committee.pdf
Of the overall percentage, the detailed breakdown shows geographical variances:
· 22,000 staff in London – 12% of workforce;
· 23,000 in the south east – 10% of workforce.
· There are a higher proportion of EU nationals in regulated professions, e.g. nursing, than managerial posts.
Skills for Care 2017 Conference information