Local authorities say it is imperative to hire non-EU social workers
27th September 2010: The UK Border Agency documents disclose it is vetoing pleas from the local authorities for employing qualified social workers from outside the EU.
With this, it is clear that the temporary cap on immigration is already taking its toll on the functioning of the councils.
In fact, the councils are being stopped from recruiting much needed social workers from outside the European Union with the introduction of the temporary immigration cap. It is, rather, putting a stop to the councils’ move to address their social worker shortages with non-EU workers.
A UKBA letter in this regard says: "We received many more requests for initial and additional certificates of sponsorship, than we had available this month … As a result, only requests for tier 2 general and work permit extensions of leave for new and existing sponsors were successful at this month’s panel."
Local authorities insist Lord Laming’s inquiry last year into child protection failures recognizes a national shortage of qualified social workers. The report following the death of Peter Connelly in Haringey, London, concluded the government must urgently implement graduate training programmes to meet the shortage of qualified child protection social workers.
Local authorities say it is imperative for them to hire non-EU social workers until the new training initiatives generate enough staff to meet the skills shortage.
The matter was brought to the fore after Coventry city council’s plea was rejected this month for certificates of sponsorship for "tier 2" skilled social workers. The council wanted to hire seven workers from the US and Canada.
Further proof on rejection of other councils’ plea has come from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).
In a communication to the Migration Advisory Committee, consulting on next year’s cap, ADCS has stated: "We are aware of two specific examples of where the interim cap is having an immediate detrimental effect on local authorities’ abilities to fulfill their safeguarding and child protection responsibilities.
"One local authority in the south-east with 16,000 employees has been told by (the UK Border Agency) that it may only have a total this year of five work permits including for any existing overseas staff.
"The local authority already has 40 overseas workers and is expecting a further 11 social workers from Canada to join the staff later this month.
"Another south-east local authority is similarly anticipating the arrival of some 25 social workers from the US – all of course requiring work permits.
"Whilst we are sure that it is not the government’s intention to undermine the recruitment of qualified, highly skilled social workers,the interim cap and proposed future limits on economic migration to the UK from outside of the EU arealready and will continue to have an extremely damaging impact on local authorities’ ability to care for and protect vulnerable children, young people and their families."