Britain needs to recruit and train 1.6 million low-skilled health and social care workers up to 2022, more than any other job in the country, as part of a post-Brexit action plan for the sector, a think tank has said.
The IPPR said around 55,000 social care workers are EU migrants, who could provide a less reliable source of labour after Brexit due to expected restrictions on low-skilled immigration.
Therefore the Government will need to significantly improve standards in quality, training and working conditions to attract more British workers to plug gaps as the population gets older and fewer EU migrants are allowed into the country.
Poor standards are driving growing concerns about high levels of dissatisfaction with the care on offer, a rising number of abuse alerts and a large number of providers needing formal action plans for improvement, the report said.
The issue of social care has become a political hot potato, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accusing the Government of offering a "sweetheart deal" to Tory-led Surrey County Council so it would scrap an embarrassing 15% tax hike, which was planned to cover a funding shortfall.
The IPPR said the Government should hike national insurance tax by 1% to fund the greater investment the sector needs, alongside a drive to improve standards.
Clare McNeil (pictured), IPPR associate director for families and work, said: "Social care services will need to change drastically in order to deal with the growing demand for adult care services due to our ageing population and a post-Brexit migration system.
"These challenges cannot be addressed without a sustainable funding solution for social care, for example by raising National Insurance (NI) contributions for employees and employers by 1%.
"Persistent underfunding in the adult social care sector has led to a reliance on a low-paid, often poorly trained workforce, with care workers some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
"The sector will have a huge challenge on its hands to recruit enough workers to keep pace with demand, particularly with expected lower levels of migration.
"We are calling for a radical change in workforce strategy - both to improve working conditions to attract more workers and to raise standards in the sector."
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