A small rural care business in Suffolk has spoken of struggles in recruitment, saying there are “enormous black spots” in the county where care is not available.

Christianne Irvine has said that many are “living in a care crisis”, as the agency has been struggling to recruit for 18 months.

She also spoke of the recent Home Office action against many care companies who have had their licences suspended or revoked, meaning staff have 60 days to find another company to stay in the country.

Ms Irvine said she would like to take on these workers, but they say they do not have capacity as the licence to take on carers with a working visa is too expensive.

A small business hiring a worker from an eligible country for a one-year period would face total costs of more than £3,000, including sponsor licence fees, visa fees, Immigration Skills Charge (ISC), and a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Ms Irvine said: “People are not interested in taking on a care role as there is such a stigma attached to it. We are trying to find local people to support their local industry, but we can’t find them.

“It is incredibly frustrating. We live in an ageing population, and we have a waiting list of clients that we cannot serve. We are living in a care crisis.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Ms Irvine says the situation is incredibly frustrating.Ms Irvine says the situation is incredibly frustrating. (Image: Christianne Irvine)

Ms Irvine was taken on in her current role to focus on recruitment issues but has not been able to recruit a single person in the last eight weeks.

She added: “All we are getting from job sites is constant request for switches from workers who have come from abroad, but we cannot employ them as we do not have the ability to pay these fees.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have been clear that current levels of migration are far too high.

"Health and social care workers make a vital contribution to society, but immigration is not the long-term answer to our social care needs.

“The overwhelming majority of the employers currently on the sponsor register are small and micro businesses, so we do not recognise the suggestion that accessing the immigration system is cost prohibitive.”