The government’s plans for new salary thresholds for immigrants will pose a “real challenge in social care”, according to councillors in Richmond.

Finance lead, councillor Robin Brown, said while the council and its contractors pay the London Living Wage, this will still not be enough for many care workers to meet the government’s new £26,500 threshold for EU and non-EU immigrants under the new system it plans to introduce next year. 

“The government seems to be, as ever, closing its eyes to this problem,” he said at last week’s finance committee [February 20].

“It doesn’t sound like they are planning to put extra money into this sector that is going to be needed if we’re suddenly going to be needing to pay people a lot more to attract people in,” he said.

“The whole idea of even providing social care to councils becomes unviable for a lot of these businesses. So something’s going to have to give, and we’re not quite sure how they’re going to fix it.”

Care workers can earn as little as £16,000, according to the National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS).

The comments came during a debate to raise council tax in Richmond.

It is expected to go up by 3.8 per cent overall this year, including a two per cent adult social care precept to help fund services in the borough, subject to approval by Full Council on March 3.

Cllr Brown said any increase in council tax is “unwelcome” but there is little alternative due to the lack of government funding.

Earlier in the meeting he said the government’s £700 million funding boost for high needs pupils this year was needed, but the extra £2.2 million for Richmond was not enough.

The finance report explained this is £4.4 million less than the estimated funding of special needs students in the borough, and will not help with the council’s cumulative deficit of nearly £15 million in this area.

Owners of band D properties in the borough are expected to pay £1,871.64 in council tax for 2020/2021.

This includes a 1.80 per cent increase in council tax, plus 2 per cent for the social care precept, and includes the Greater London Authorities precept which has increased by 3.61 per cent this year.