Guidance for the Social Care Sector

BREXIT. Six little letters that are adding up to several big concerns for the social care sector. But in the swirl of deal or no deal negotiations, deadline departure dates or delays, can an accurate picture be drawn of ‘what’s likely’ when it comes to the impact on the EU workforce in the UK? And once the size of the issue is known, can preparations or new initiatives be undertaken to lessen the impact for care homes up and down the country? 

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In September 2018, Skills for Care released their comprehensive “State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England” NMDS-SC report1. This estimated that of the 1.47 million workers in the social care sector, 104,000 come from across EU, with a further 130,000 from further overseas. Essentially, a typical demographic split within your care workforce is likely to be 83% UK Citizen, 8% EU and 9% rest of world. These helpful statistics provide an extremely useful benchmark at a macro level for each organisation to evaluate its own workforce make-up.

With over 20 clients in the social care space, GRI’s e-tips® system also collects nationality data to give an additional picture of exposure per care home, per location. Importantly, our statistics provide a picture of exactly which countries in the EU a care home’s workers are predominantly from. This level of detail is invaluable in working out the likely push and pull factors at work per EU state in terms of workers remaining in the UK, returning to a home country/or moving to another EU country.

Reviewing GRI social care clients we found that the mix between UK and EU citizens was 76.39% UK and 13.61% EU. However, within this we typically found that workers from Romania were by far the most prevalent EU country of origin working in the care industry, making up just under 5% of a care home’s total population. Followed by (perhaps surprisingly) Italy (3.01%), the Netherlands (2.49%) and Ireland (2.10%).

Taking these statistics, GRI’s Brexit Taskforce then started to analyse unemployment rates and national minimum wage levels (a good indicator of care worker rates of pay across the EU) as well as migration patterns since the referendum vote.

Social Care_Table.jpg

N/A denotes no national minimum wage. Typically, individual organisations collectively bargain in these countries to agree minimum wage. All figures correct as of December 2018.

The figures may look stark in the table but do actually offer some reassurance.


Although Romania currently has below average levels of unemployment compared to the UK and migration to the UK has reduced, reductions are not as high as for the so called A8 countries (Poland, Slovakia etc.). In addition, Romanian workers have shown far less signs than any other country of a “Brexodus” away from the UK post-referendum according to ONS4 - with Romanians and Bulgarians in the lowest numbers of citizens from various EU countries to have left the UK. Romanians remain the second most populous EU nationality in the UK at just over 455,000. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that the national minimum wage available in Romania is a quarter the NMW offered in the UK.



2According to Eurofound, the tripartite EU agency and European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, care workers’ salaries rarely go above the minimum wage across European member states, despite the attributes and skills required for.



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