The impact that Brexit could have on social care in Hertfordshire has been highlighted.

Cllr Helen Campbell highlighted the role played by migrant workers in the health service sector at the meeting of the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Partnership, on Tuesday (January 28).

She asked Hertfordshire County Council’s director of adult care services Iain MacBeath about the impact Brexit could have on social care in the county.

She highlighted the recommendation of the migration advisory committee to cut the minimum salary threshold for migrants to help with the recruitment of public sector workers such as teachers and NHS staff.

But she asked whether this would be enough – highlighting  further reports that had suggested that this would not be sufficient for those working in the social care sector.

The recommendation from the migration advisory committee suggests the threshold should be cut to £26,500.

But at the meeting Mr MacBeath told members of the partnership they would not find many social care workers earning salaries of £26,000.

He said the impact of Brexit had started to hit social care in the county immediately after the referendum, which was in 2016.

He added it had taken longer for it to impact on health services, where staff are paid more, have more of a ‘career’ and entitlements to NHS pensions.

To mitigate against Brexit – and high turnover of staff – he told members of the partnership the county council had drawn up plans to divert council tax increases directly into care worker salaries.

This year the Government has give councils powers to increase council tax by an extra two per cent, known as the ‘adults social care precept’. In Hertfordshire this will raise around £12.5 million.

And proposals to be considered by the county council in February would put all of that into increases for social care workers.

Mr MacBeath said that this would be focused on front-line staff – particularly domiciliary workers.

For around 5,000 staff he estimated that this could mean a pay increase of up to 20 per cent – taking their hourly rate to just over £12.40.

At the meeting Mr MacBeath said there was currently a waiting list of around 40 people – who had been assessed as needing home care but who could not access it.

And he said they needed to appeal to people working in other sectors to consider working in the home care sector.