Workforce nationality figures

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The impact of the EU referendum on the adult social care sector

Skills for Care estimates that there are 1.62 million jobs in adult social care. 1.52 million jobs are within local authorities, independent sector providers and those working for direct payment recipients only - the statistics below are based on this segment of the workforce. 

Overall there were around 250,000 jobs in adult social care held by people with a non-British nationality (115,000 EU; 134,000 non-EU).

  • Around 84% of the adult social care workforce were British.
  • 8% (115,000 jobs) had an EU nationality and 9% (134,000 jobs) had a non-EU nationality.
  • Therefore, on average, the adult social care sector had a greater reliance on non-EU than EU workers.
  • The proportion of the adult social care workforce with a British nationality has been consistent over the past six years (from 2012/13 to 2018/19), rising one percentage point over the period. The proportion of EU (non-British) workers has risen three percentage points and non-EU workers has fallen three percentage points over the period.

EU citizens

Brexit appears, so far, to have had little effect with the number of EU nationals continuing to increase and the number of non-EU nationals decreasing. Skills for Care are monitoring this on a monthly basis.  

According to the Government’s 'EU Settlement Scheme' (which, at the time of writing, outlined the Government's intentions for the rights of EU citizens post-Brexit), the rights of EU citizens living in the UK will not change until after 31 December 2020. After this point, EU citizens will have until June 2021 to hold or be in the process of applying for UK immigration status through the EU Settlement Scheme.

EU citizens and their family members who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously resident in the UK for five years will be eligible for ‘settled status’, enabling them to stay indefinitely.

EU citizens and their family members who arrive by 31 December 2020 but will not yet have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, will be eligible for ‘pre-settled status’, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status.

Therefore, if the rules set out in the Settlement Scheme are implemented (negotiations with the EU were ongoing at the time of writing), then all workers with an EU nationality currently working in adult social care will be allowed, if they choose, to continue to work in the UK provided that they remain living in the UK and do not have any criminal convictions. This is the same for any individual with an EU nationality who moves to the UK between now and December 2020. In the event of a 'No-deal' Brexit, those resident by 31 October 2019 will have until 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

At the time of writing, 909,300 individuals had applied to the scheme, including 865,700 EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Although it is not possible to estimate the exact number of people who need to apply, this figure represents around 30% of all EU, EEA and Swiss people living in the UK. 

Following the Government's white paper on 'The UK's future skills-based immigration system' in December 2018, the specifics of immigration post-Brexit remain unclear, There could be a significant impact on the supply of workers to the adult social care sector in the future.


The Cavendish Coalition

Skills for Care is a member of the Cavendish Coalition.  The Coalition, a group of 36 health and social care organisations, is working to ensure the system is properly staffed after the UK leaves the EU. The group has set out what the Government needs to focus on during EU withdrawal negotiations to maintain safe, high-quality health and social care services.

The Cavendish Coalition believes it is critical that the Government takes all possible measures to safeguard the future supply of health and social care workers needed to continue delivering safe, high-quality care. The Coalition is ready and available to support the Government in a way which allows it to plan a future immigration system which assesses skill levels based on public service value, and ensures excellent, continuing care to communities, patients and residents.

The group submitted evidence to the 'Impact of a no-deal Brexit on health and social care' inquiry (23 October 2018) of Health and Social Care Committee. This included highlighting the Coalition's concerns in the event of a 'No-deal' Brexit and the implications this may have for the workforce.

Brexit negotiations were ongoing at the time of writing.


Related reports

  • Regional level workforce nationality data is available in Chapter four of the relevant regional report
  • There is national information in Chapter Four of the 'State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England report'
  • Looking for something specific on workforce nationality? Contact us