London faces ‘social care time bomb’ with ageing population and Brexit immigration rules, new research suggests

London is facing a “social care time bomb” due to its ageing population, new figures suggest.

There are currently around 3.3 million households headed by a person over 75 in England, according to Office for National Statistics data.

But, based on current trends, new analysis suggests this number is set to soar to around six million by 2043.

House of Commons Library research has found that the capital is likely to be see the biggest percentage increase in its elderly population in the coming decades.

Its analysis, based on 2018 ONS data and looking at the eldest economically active person in each home, found most London boroughs will see the number of homes led by people aged over 75 more than double by 2043.

 Numbers of older residents on this scale would have a knock-on impact on London’s health and social care services (PA)

It also revealed that seven London boroughs make up the “top ten” English local authorities facing the largest percentage increases in numbers of ageing residents.

Tower Hamlets is set to see the largest single rise in the entire country at 152 per cent, with households led by over 75s soaring from 6,433 to 16,235.

Southwark and Newham will also see large rises, according to the research, with 133 per cent and 132 per cent respectively, taking Southwark to a projected 20,470 households.

Hackney (128 per cent), Camden (127 per cent), Westminster (124 per cent), and Hammersmith and Fulham (118 per cent) also made the top ten in percentage increases.

Numbers of older residents on this scale would have a knock-on impact on London’s health and social care services.

The findings come after it emerged migrant workers – including from the EU – will not be eligible for visas for most care roles when a points-based immigration system comes into force on January 1, 2021.

London has the highest percentage of migrant social care workers in the UK.

Currently around 40 per cent of social care workers in the capital are from abroad – with 25 per cent of staff in the sector from the EU, with an additional 14 per cent from outside the EU.

Charities for older people, including Age UK, have called for a u-turn on the post-Brexit policy, as they say the new migration rules risk “sacrificing” the welfare of the elderly.

The Department for Health and Social Care has said it will bring forward a plan for reform for the sector (PA)

The new research was commissioned by Liberal Democrat leadership candidate, Layla Moran MP, who argues the latest visa rules combined with an ageing population will leave London facing huge social care issues.

Ms Moran told the Standard: “These stark figures reveal the social care timebomb facing London. But instead of tackling this issue, the government’s plans to make it worse by shutting out carers from abroad.

“Almost four in ten social care workers in the capital are from abroad…. This reckless and unjust move will exacerbate the crisis already facing social care.”

She added: “Urgent action is needed to put our social care system on a sustainable footing as demand soars in the coming years.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the social care system “has been broken for a long time”, and earlier this month the head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, told the BBC the Covid-19 crisis had already demonstrated a need to “decisively answer” how high quality social care could be provided long-term in the UK.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said it will bring forward a plan for reform of the social care sector.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Migration Advisory Committee is clear that immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector.

“We want employers to focus on investing in our domestic work force, which is why a national recruitment campaign was recently launched.

“However, from January 2021 senior care workers who meet the criteria will be able to come to the UK through the Skilled Workers route in the new Points-Based Immigration System. Additionally, the EU Settlement Scheme means that all EU and EAA citizens, and their family members, currently working in social care can stay in the UK and we are encouraging them to do so.”


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