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Warning over Brexit threat to care workforce

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Brexit could put care services for the elderly and disabled at risk if up to 78,000 European Union citizens employed in the sector lose their right to work in the UK, according to research.

The charity Independent Age and think-tank the International Longevity Centre-UK found the risk to the sector has been made worse as a result of “failures” by care providers to recruit British-born workers to meet increasing demand. 

The joint report ’Brexit and the Future of Migrants in the Social Care Workforce’, published today, called for all adult social care staff to retain the right to work once Britain leaves the EU.

Responding to the findings, a spokeswoman for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said millions of people were being cared for every day by people from across the world.

She added: “The loss of any of this valuable workforce, in a sector already under pressure from increased demand and staffing challenges, would have a profound effect, and we will seek to take part in any relevant discussions to convey our support for EU workers currently working in our adult social care system.”

The research based on analysis of figures from the Office of National Statistics found 80% of migrants who have travelled to England to work in adult social care this year were from the EU.

In London it is estimated one in nine adult social care workers could be at risk of losing their right to work following Brexit.

The research found about 1.4m people currently work in adult social care in England but the recruitment and retention of staff was described as a “severe challenge”.

Simon Bottery, director of policy at Independent Age, said the sector needed to recruit more British-born social care workers but added: ”That can’t happen without a commitment to fund the care sector properly.”

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