NHS cure to RCoS Allocations

June oversubscription of Tier 2 RCoS Allocations

Many UK businesses and aspiring skilled migrants will be painfully aware of the ongoing oversubscription of the Tier 2 RCoS allocations Points Based System. It’s a reasonable assumption that this is a Brexit related phenomenon as more UK companies have identified non-European labour as a more secure source of recruitment.

The tier 2 allocation of RCoS’s is capped to an annual limit and this summer more requests are being refused than granted which is causing despair, frustration and a recruitment shortfall for many businesses up and down the country. In a nutshell; since the end of last year, any skilled vacancy in the UK Resident labour market in an occupation that is not recognised as a skills shortage nor offered a salary in excess of double the UK average, has not been filled. Any time before December 2017, British companies simply had to demonstrate their inability to recruit locally to be able to sponsor skilled migrants from abroad.

Immediate consequences

Successive Tier 2 RCoS oversubscription has caused significant inflation to the value of niche skills if sponsors were determined to fill shortfalls. This serves to either attract and thus under-employ more experienced UK residents or artificially increase salary values in the hope of scoring enough points to sponsor a migrant worker. This is an unhelpful economic model and many businesses simply cannot participate in excessive salary inflation. In the most recent June RC0S allocations panel with only a few exceptions for non-skills shortage occupations, a company would need to offer a salary in excess of £60,000 in order to be granted a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS). This is therefore problematic for junior/ entry level vacancies particularly in locations where average salaries are typically lower, for example in the North of England. If growing businesses cannot recruit entry level staff, their competitivity stalls. Without this sponsorship facility available to businesses, many have now been forced to consider a move to Ireland or Germany. But whilst these seriously damaging issues might be ignored by a Brexit blinkered Government, a staffing crisis in the NHS is totally unacceptable. Fortunately for sponsors, non specialist Doctors are also not protected by skills shortage status thus the inability of the NHS to staff local clinics has become the straw to break the camel’s back.

Is the National Health Service (NHS) a route cause or a net solution?

The NHS is a major UK employer and beneficiary of the Tier 2 system, but has been unsustainably blighted by the 7 month restriction on sponsoring migrant Doctors on which local clinics rely. Unlike Nurses, Doctor occupational codes are dependant on points scored by salary value. As a nationwide organisation who is wholly accountable to the tax payer, there is simply no facility to respond to short term market fluctuations. With ongoing budget and funding strains, this has caused a totally avoidable staffing crisis. The Home Secretary has now been forced to address and recalibrate the allocations system in his most recent statement of change by removing both Doctors and Nurses from the restricted allocations system. Nurses typically achieve lower salaries but are prioritised with skills shortage status whilst Doctors traditionally relied on slightly higher than average salaries. Removing both these occupations together will have two immediate effects;
1) The NHS may theoretically recruit freely (subject to meeting eligibilities) without hitting arbitrary limits, although further detail may yet be introduced.
2) Since the NHS is a significant national employer and medical professionals account for just over one third of all restricted certificates released each year; when these occupations are removed from the capped system a significant increase in certificates will be available to everybody else.
From an initial appraisal of allocation statistics, it does not seem likely that this revision will restore the allocations process to its pre-December 2017 equilibrium. Whilst freeing up a number of certificates might allow a short term respite for salaries over £30,000 to £40,000, if supply was to consistently meet demand the arbitrary capped system needs to be scrapped so that a gradual increase in demand for a non-European workforce might be matched.

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