By Local Democracy Reporter
THE number of care workers transferring from the rest of the EU to Essex since the Brexit referendum has dropped by 90 per cent, adding to the social care crisis already facing the county’s ageing population.
The sobering news from Essex County Council (ECC) comes as the county faces an ageing population alongside heavy fiscal restraints.
The council has already introduced a ring fenced council tax precept of two per cent to contribute exclusively to adult social care.
The population of older people in Essex is expected to grow by 21 per cent over the next decade so demand for care is growing.
It has budgeted in 2018/2019 for a Health and Adult Social Care bill of £584m. Last year it spent £409m in this field.
Recent figures have shown the county council is already the local authority with the largest debt against people who have deferred selling their homes to pay for social care.
Families in Essex have racked up a £10 million care bill that will have to be paid back to the county council by selling their loved ones’ properties.
In 2017/2018 the most expensive property taken as security against care home fees was worth £3 million.
Lib Dem county councillor Stephen Robinson said: “We have a particular problem in recruiting staff into the health and care sector.
“They can work in London and get paid more so we have a recruitment crisis and Brexit is not going to help that.
“In addition there has been a 90 per cent drop in the number of care workers coming from the rest of the EU to Essex since the referendum.
“We have had almost no care workers coming from the rest of Europe because the referendum has effectively told them they are not wanted. It has left a massive gap.
“We already had a crisis in social care that the Conservative government is refusing the face up to. And the Brexit vote has made it worse.”
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We are working closely with providers, to be sure they are responding any recruitment and retention pressures experienced in the social care market.”
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