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Southern Cross To Axe 1000 Overseas Senior Carers Due To Work Permit Renewal Problems | Immigration Matters

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Up to one thousand non-EU Senior Carers employed by Southern Cross will be forced to leave the UK, unless the Border and Immigration Agency backs down on minimum pay ruling, according to Chief Executive Philip Scott.

The statement by Britain’s largest private care provider is critical of the Border and Immigration Agency’s (BIA) recent policy changes on Senior Carer Work Permits, and believes they will have a “negative impact” on the company.

Southern Cross has taken the unusual step of publishing a statement and video interview of CEO Philip Scott slamming the Government’s recent policy shift on Work Permits.

The BIA introduced strict new guidelines on Senior Carer Work Permits on 13 August 2007, without consulting major employers or informing the Healthcare Sector Advisory Panel.

Although in-country Work Permit holders extending their permits do not have to meet these guidelines, employers are being forced to pay a new minimum rate of £7.02 per hour or £14600 per annum.

Non-EU Workers priced out of the market – Southern Cross

Whilst many employers have agreed to this new rate and Work Permits are being successfully renewed, larger companies like Southern Cross are refusing to award the equivalent of a 25% pay rise to its overseas staff.

The company argues that this would be a significant increase and that:

“The enforced pay increase would need to be paid to all Senior Care Staff not just those from non–EU countries. This clause has effectively priced non-EU workers out of the market”.

They are unimpressed by the new guidelines and concession on Work Permits, pointing out that even the BIA “believes that Senior Care Positions that meet the Work Permit skills criteria are extremely rare”.

Southern Cross, which employs 41000 people and is currently advertising vacancies for Senior Carers, says that 450 overseas workers are immediately affected, but adds that as many as 1000 will face similar problems.

Mr Scott said:

“I don’t think the Home Office really appreciates the impact this change will have on our staff and the people they look after.

From a company perspective, the additional caveat of the increased salary effectively prevents us from recruiting outside Europe. This wouldn’t be a problem if we could recruit for this role from within the UK or indeed the EU. However it is a sad reflection of the times that people from these countries simply no longer want to fulfil these roles”.

The full statement and interview can be viewed at:

This statement will come as no surprise to regular Immigration Matters readers acutely aware of the misery the BIA’s decision is causing all over the UK. Every day we receive dozens of letters from Work Permit holders desperately worried about their future.

Henry Lazaras, a Filipino Senior Carer working at a Southern Cross home in Manchester, is one of the many facing deportation after the BIA refused his Work Permit renewal.

His employer has rejected Henry’s request to pay the extra needed to get the decision overturned, leaving him with little choice but to return home to his native Philippines, where jobs are low paid and few and far between.

Henry told me:

“When they heard the news from the Home Office had refused my Work Permit renewal, all the resident’s relatives wrote a letter to the local MP to support my case.

“But Southern Cross did nothing about this. All they said was to leave the country. I’m really upset and my future is a question mark and my family is devastated by this news. I feel like as if I have done something wrong to this country and people, all I have done is to care for the elderly people.”

Henry, and the other doomed workers at Southern Cross, represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’, and many thousands more will follow unless the Government takes a more practical view on the minimum salary issue.

If you have been refused a Senior Carer Work Permit and would like advice on what to do next or possible alternatives and schemes, please email Charles Kelly

For all the latest Immigration news see

The fight is not over

Please keep signing the Save Our Senior Carers” on-line petition to the Prime Minister –

Almost 2000 have signed, but we need more. Where are the rest of you?

Why not pass this message on to your friends and colleagues, manager or residents and their families?

Better still, start a “viral text message” to sign the petition. Filipinos brought down a Government in a text message revolution!

Spread the Word, like or share this page, your friends will also love it and thanks for it.

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