UK ministers considering limit on foreign care workers’ dependants

UK ministers considering limit on foreign care workers’ dependants

By The Guardian

LONDON: The number of dependants that foreign care workers are allowed to bring in to the UK could be cut under government plans to reduce immigration, a cabinet minister has said.

Steve Barclay, the environment secretary, said the home secretary, James Cleverly, was considering restrictions on dependant numbers as an option to reduce figures.

Under proposals from the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, workers could be banned from bringing dependants or restricted to bringing one relative with them.

Asked how far he supported a cap on migration, Barclay told Times Radio: “I absolutely support bringing the numbers down. We clearly need to go further, faster.

“We’re taking action, for example, on dependants, so around 150,000 student dependants where that route has been closed. That announcement has been made.”

He added: “One of the areas where I know the home secretary will want to look is dependants of those coming into the care sector.

“So, there are a range of options. The home secretary … it’s quite right to say we need to bring those numbers down.

“There’s action that we have already taken such as on student dependants, where a tighter approach is being applied, but clearly we need to go further and I absolutely support the home secretary in doing so.”

Most foreign care workers have come from Nigeria, India and Zimbabwe, according to Skills for Care, a government-funded agency. Since the Home Office added care workers to the shortage occupation list, 14% of care workers in England are now from non-EU countries (excluding the UK), while 7% are from the EU.

Official figures published last week showed net migration reached a record 745,000 in 2022, prompting Tory calls for curbs.

The figures exposed tensions within the cabinet, with ministers clashing over options to reduce migration. Jenrick, once seen as close to the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said on Tuesday he would have cut the number of people coming into the UK “before last Christmas” if it could have been done.

Jenrick appeared to express frustration with the government’s failure to adopt his suggestions to reduce overall migration in line with a 2019 manifesto pledge. It has been reported that he has his own five-point plan that he has presented to No 10.

Suella Braverman, who was sacked as home secretary, has since claimed that the prime minister reneged on a deal to implement policies such as caps on the number of work visas or increasing minimum salary levels while she was in office.

Sunak, backed by the foreign secretary, David Cameron, and Cleverly, is believed to be reluctant to give in to demands to block human rights laws so asylum seekers can be sent to Rwanda.