Leave voters were motivated by many different factors for wanting Britain to leave the European Union, but there will surely be none who wished to affect those who rely on carers to remain in their own homes.
However, this is shaping up to become a harmful unintended consequence of the Brexit process unless urgent arrangements are made for EU nationals to continue to work in this country regardless of how the UK’s departure from the bloc unfolds.
The figures are stark. According to Age UK, around 104,000 care jobs are held by EU nationals – many of whom are live-in carers. Given that there are already around 110,000 job vacancies in care in England already, combined with high numbers of staff leaving the care sector every year, it is eminently clear the non-British workforce are indispensable.
The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended restricting migration access for workers earning less than £30,000 but as Age UK rightly points out, carers may be low paid but they are not low-skilled. They provide a vital service to thousands of people in this country, and also take pressure off the NHS by keeping people living independently and out of hospital.
The Government has already proved that it can react to concerns about the loss of migrant workers through its approach to fruit pickers, recently announcing a post-Brexit pilot scheme allowing 2,500 migrant workers into the country for seasonal work. Common sense dictates a similar exemption will be required for care workers. But the sector is far from being alone in facing an uncertain future.
As business leaders and trade union bosses raise concerns about the major impact no-deal Brexit would have on jobs and the economy, the seemingly-intractable impasse in Parliament on the way forward must be broken.