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Government extends social care workforce scheme to tackle ‘unethical recruitment’

The Department of Health and Social Care have decided to continue funding the pilot to support international recruitment within the sector.

In March 2023 the government first announced the fund, which was created to help address local challenges around international recruitment and exploitation within social care. At the end of last year, headlines began to surface about how some foreign carers had been ‘exploited on a grand scale’ as some were paid as little as £5 an hour and charged thousands of pounds in unexpected fees.

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As a result, the government fund has now been extended by 12 months and backed by an additional £16m.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Over the past year, alongside an increase in international recruitment of care staff we have also seen a rise in reports of unethical employment practices.

‘The government is committed to continuing to use international recruitment to support the adult social care workforce but wants to increase its focus on ensuring the ethical and sustainable employment of international recruits within the care system.

‘Consequently, the government is extending the pilot of this funding for 12 months, with a revised focus on regional and sub regional partners delivering activity which prevents and responds to exploitative employment practices involved with international recruitment of care staff in their regions to ensure that international recruitment can offer a sustainable mechanism for supporting workforce capacity.’

The £16m grant will be available to ‘regional partnerships’ – made up of local authorities and care alliances or other groupings of local providers – over 2024/25.

However, not all care organisations agree with this decision. Care England – the leading representative body for care providers in the country – said the funding announcement would barely ‘scratch the surface’ for a sector currently facing more than 150,000 vacancies.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, has urged the government to move away from ‘short-term, sporadic grants and towards a long-term funding settlement that permits care providers to fundamentally address financial and workforce challenges and gives all parts of the system the ability to meaningfully plan for the future.’

Image: TheDigitalWay

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