Meeting highlights impact of Brexit on social care in Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 06:59 31 January 2020
The impact that Brexit could have on social care in Hertfordshire has been highlighted at a meeting in St Albans.
Cllr Helen Campbell highlighted the role played by migrant workers in the health service sector at the meeting of the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Partnership on Tuesday, January 28.
She also asked Herts county council's director of adult care services Iain MacBeath about the impact Brexit could have on social care in the county, and highlighted the recommendation of the migration advisory committee to cut the minimum salary threshold for migrants in order to help with the recruitment of those working in public services, such as teachers and NHS staff.
However Cllr Campbell asked whether this would be enough - highlighting further reports that suggested this would not be sufficient for those working in the social care sector.
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The recommendation from the migration advisory committee suggests the threshold should be cut to £26,500, but at the meeting Mr MacBeath told members of the partnership they would not find many social care workers earning salaries of £26,000.
He said the impact of Brexit had started to hit social care in the county immediately after the EU referendum in 2016, and that it had taken longer to impact on health services - where staff are paid more, have more of a 'career' and entitlement to NHS pensions. However he said the impact on social care had started more quickly.
To mitigate against Brexit - and high turnover of staff - he told members of the partnership the county council had drawn up plans to divert council tax increases into care worker salaries.
This year the government has given councils powers to increase council tax by an additional two per cent, known as the 'adults social care precept'. In Herts this will raise around £12.5 million. In February, the county council will consider proposals to put all of that into increases for social care workers.
Mr MacBeath said this would be focused on front-line staff, particularly domiciliary workers. For around 5000 staff he estimated that this could mean a pay increase of up to 20 per cent - taking their hourly rate to just over £12.40.
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