In a report which first appeared in Balita Pinoy, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Crewe and Nantwich, Gwyneth Dunwoody, has filed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons this week.
She hopes to gather signatures from as many MP’s as possible to support her campaign for an amnesty for the carers who now find themselves out of a job and threatened with deportation.
Mrs Dunwoody has already brought this matter up with Immigration Minister Liam Byrne in a recent 30 minute debate, mainly out of frustration at the treatment of Senior Carers, especially those whose employers refuse to implement the mandated £7.02 per hour pay rate imposed by the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA).
Thousands of carers are now under threat of deportation. Having entered the country legally, they now find themselves in the unfortunate position of being branded illegal overstayers, after their former employers refused to sponsor their Work Permit extensions.
Some of the UK’s biggest private healthcare providers including Southern Cross, Barchester and Four Seasons have refused to implement the pay hike, as it would have to be applied to all their staff.
Many of the carers which Southern Cross has brought into the country have contacted Immigration Matters, and their local MP’s, for assistance.
This week I met with Southern Cross CEO, Philip Scott, who expressed his frustration with the BIA over the lack of consultation with employers prior to the introduction of new guidelines on Senior Carers introduced in August.
At a meeting hosted by Caring Business, speakers from the BIA addressed leading healthcare employers, industry trade bodies, Immigration Advisers and representatives from Unison and Skills for Care.
The BIA team of three, two from the Work Permit’s Policy Unit in Sheffield and one from the Points Based team in Croydon, gave short presentations to the group of around 20 people.
When Jan Hunter and Richard Jackson tried to defend the BIA’s recently imposed minimum salary of £7.02 per hour for Senior Carers, they were challenged by several members of the audience who refused to back down despite requests from the moderator.
Richard Jackson echoed Liam Byrne’s call for the industry to “pay the going rate” and pointed out that the previous minimum salary for Senior Carers, £5.53 per hour, had not changed for over six years during which time “the national minimum wage has shot up by 45%, and the care industry’s rate of £5.53 an hour is only 1p above the minimum wage. It was the lowest stated in occupational guidance for any job”.
But Philip Scott argued that giving his Senior Carers a pay rise, which would also have to be awarded to the rest of his care staff, would “wipe £10 million off the bottom line”.
The CEO, who is due to step down later this year, added that his company has always worked closely with the GMB union and employs over 40,000 people.
Southern Cross gets 70% of their fees from Local Authority funding and cannot just increase fees to cover higher salaries.
Several other members argued that the basis on which the new salary level had been set was fatally flawed. The BIA has maintained that the figure was arrived at after “consultation” with employers and Skills for Care.
The three biggest heath care employers all of whom had senior representatives in the room, confirmed that they had not been consulted.
However, the final word went to Nandra Ahmed, Chair of the National Care Association who is also on the board of Skills for Care. She said that she was not aware of any consultation on Senior Carer salaries and that the Skills for Care recommended salary for a Senior Carer is £6.00 per hour.
A number of valuable contributions came from the floor and a full report will follow. I called on the BIA to at very least do something to “ring fence” existing Work Permit holders to protect them from deportation.
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The early day motion reads:
That this House notes that many senior care workers based in the UK who came from outside the EEA are caught between new departmental criteria on pay scales and employers who will not meet it; notes that many of the individuals affected have been resident in the United Kingdom for as long as six years; and calls on the Government to grant an amnesty of three months from the date of expiry on in-country extension applications for senior care workers where employers will not or cannot meet the pay criteria, to enable them to find alternate work within the same sector.
Standard Order Party Groups Alphabetical Order Party Totals
For an up-to-date list of MP’s who have signed the Early Day Motion see: