27 Mar 2024

The former Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has published a damning report exposing serious and systemic issues with the Home Office's handling of care worker visas. The report reveals a litany of failures that have allowed exploitation of migrant workers, including by companies that do not legitimately operate in the care sector.

The Home Office responded, highlighting what it perceives to be inaccuracies in the report.

Officials in the Home Office have struggled to manage the surge in sponsor licence applications since the government added care worker roles to the Shortage Occupation List in February 2022. Inadequate resource and poor systems and processes resulted in failure to implement sufficient safeguards, compliance checks, or enforcement measures. This has led to a sharp increase in cases of labour abuse and modern slavery, with domiciliary care workers particularly at risk.

Commenting on the report, Dr Jane Townson OBE, CEO of the Homecare Association, said:

"This report from the Independent Chief Inspector is a shocking indictment of the government’s negligent and shambolic handling of the care worker visa route. Both the Department of Health and Social Care and the Home Office failed to heed warnings from the Homecare Association about potential risks of international recruitment in domiciliary care. The Home Office has not sought to understand or engage with the care sector. This lack of communication meant it did not put in place basic protections for the workforce, allowing unscrupulous operators to exploit vulnerable migrant workers on an industrial scale.

We remain concerned that Home Office officials appear to lack a fundamental understanding of the way councils and private individuals commission and purchase domiciliary care and the legislation related to regulating homecare.

In the wake of the problems identified, the Home Office seems to have swung from one extreme to another. New rules are making it hard for legitimate, ethical homecare providers to extend existing certificates of sponsorship, accept sponsored workers switching from other employers, or to recruit directly from overseas to fill genuine vacancies.

We call on the Home Office to take urgent steps to implement the report's recommendations and to crack down hard on rogue operators. And we call on the Government to resource adequate compliance. 

Exploitative practices have no place in social care. We will continue to engage with government officials in DHSC and the Home Office to drive the changes needed to ensure the care worker visa route delivers its intended benefits.

The Homecare Association urges all homecare providers to review the report and ensure they comply with the guidance and conditions of sponsorship.

We will continue to work with our members, central and local government, and other partners, to ensure that all who work in the care sector, from the UK or overseas, are safe and can enjoy fulfilling careers”.



Ella Owens, Policy Specialist – External Affairs

Email - [email protected]

Mobile number - 07393 012 113

Notes to editors

  1. The Homecare Association is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers, with over 2,200 members nationally. Our mission is to ensure that homecare receives the investment it deserves, so all of us can live well at home and flourish within our communities. The Homecare Association acts as a trusted voice, taking a lead in shaping homecare, in collaboration with partners across the care sector. It also provides hands-on support and practical tools for its members. The Homecare Association's members agree to abide by the Association's Code of Practice.

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