The effect of leaving the European Union on the UK's health and social care sector, House of Commons, 19 March 2019

As the UK leaves the European Union, it is important that any future relationship with the EU explicitly meets the needs of the UK health and care sector.


Key messages

  • Councils play a vital role in commissioning and providing vital services for their communities, including social care and public health services. This requires close working with the NHS and other vital partners. As the UK leaves the European Union, it is important that any future relationship with the EU explicitly meets the needs of the UK health and care sector.
  • The sustainability of social care provision and the care market needs to be addressed urgently and the UK’s departure from the EU must not be a distraction. Adult social care faces a shortfall of £3.56 billion by 2025. This is needed to provide existing support at current levels. It would not meet the cost of changing the current model of providing care, or include the funding needed to tackle under met and unmet need. This must be addressed alongside work to leave the European Union.
  • The recruitment and retention of adult social care staff is a major concern for care providers. With seven per cent of existing adult social care staff from other EU nations and a vacancy rate of 12.3 per cent, securing a sustainable adult social care workforce should be a priority for the Government.
  • The £30,000 per annum salary threshold proposed in the Government’s future immigration system will impact the recruitment of care staff. Many social care and health jobs do not meet the requirements for the minimum skills or salary threshold. The £30,000 threshold must be reviewed and replaced with criteria that allows the sector to recruit and retain the staff needed.
  • EU laws such as data and information sharing impact on public health. Therefore, a review of EU laws will need to consider the impact on councils’ public health duties. Since the transfer of public health to local government, councils across England have seized new opportunities to make health everybody’s business. They have done this despite cuts to public health budgets of £700 million by the end of 2020.
  • Continued uncertainty is impacting people who use health and social care services and carers, friends, and relatives. It is the collective responsibility of central and local government to ensure that any information provided is clear, accurate and reassuring.
  • We are working with our membership to prepare for different Brexit scenarios. We have compiled useful national advice in a hub for local government and are updating our members on the implications in a number of areas, including health and care.

Download the briefing:
The effect of leaving the European Union on the UK's health and social care sector