Parents call for health surcharge waiver for volunteersType: Call to action | News
Topic: Brexit | Immigration | Volunteering
Community: Loch Arthur Community
Published on: 28th October 2021
Camphill has strong international links, and has become a global movement, since the first Camphill community was established in 1940 in Scotland by Austrian Jewish refugees from the Nazis. The Camphill movement is international in its outlook, with more than 119 communities now established in 27 countries around the world.
Camphill in Scotland values its strong international links, and international volunteers make an important contribution to the work of the 11 Camphill communities in Scotland, and to the care and support they provide for people with learning disabilities and other support needs.
Health surcharge “completely wrong”
The UK Government’s post Brexit, new points-based immigration system appears to confirm that international volunteers, including those seeking to volunteer in charitable health and social care settings, will be liable to pay an immigration health surcharge.
The health surcharge of over £600 is a significant amount of money to find, particularly for young people who come from other countries to volunteer in the UK for a year. We believe that this surcharge is grossly unfair, and that it will have an adverse impact upon the ability of charities across the UK to recruit international volunteers.
Parents at Loch Arthur community told us:
As parents of an adult supported tenant who has lived at the Loch Arthur Camphill Community for 14 years we have experienced the involvement of young volunteer co-workers, particularly from overseas, for 6 – 12 month periods as particularly valuable.
They provide energy, stimulation and peer contact particularly for younger supported tenants. Their enthusiasm, social engagement and a variety of personal and working experiences greatly add to the “mix” of care and support resources available.
The motivation of these young volunteers is clearly vocational and not pecuniary, and they too clearly benefit personally and, in many cases, professionally from their time in the Community. Indeed many return to fill long-term and permanent positions, a positive reflection on the UK’s standing in the modern world.
Roger & Barbara Sykes
Judith, another parent at Loch Arthur voiced her concern, suggesting a waiver for volunteering visits:
It seems to us completely wrong that significant visa and other non-reimbursable charges should be imposed on the individual for limited-duration volunteering visits to the UK.
In our view such administrative and health-care insurance costs should be waived for the individual, or in appropriate cases, at least be legitimately reimbursable by the organisations they visit and support .
Campaign to extend surcharge waiver
The UK Government have granted an exemption from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge to health and social care employees from other countries. Camphill Scotland and our partners are leading a campaign to ensure that the surcharge exemption is extended to international volunteers working in health and social care settings, and to international volunteers working in other settings for charities in the UK.
Emma Walker, Director of Camphill Scotland, highlighted the significant contribution which volunteers from other countries make to the work of the Camphill communities in Scotland, and to the work of charities across the UK.
Each year hundreds of international volunteers come from across the world to Scotland to volunteer within a Camphill community.
The commitment and care shown by each person – particularly since the beginning of the pandemic – is remarkable and adds to the unique environment of each Camphill.
Sadly if the UK Government decides to enforce the Immigration Health Surcharge for international volunteers from EU countries, and from other countries across the world, this could have a major impact on Camphill communities, and other charities across the UK.
Join our Call
Contact us if your organisation would like to join over 30 other organisations across the UK who have joined our call for an exemption to the immigration health surcharge to be extended to include international volunteers working in health and social care settings across the UK.
- Contact Robert McGeachy, Policy & Engagement Manager for more information.
- Read stories from our international volunteers
- Around 215 international volunteers are working in Camphill communities in Scotland, which provide social care and education to people with learning disabilities and other support needs.
- The immigration health surcharge (IHS) was set up in 2015, and enables those who pay it to access the NHS. By way of further background, the UK Government has provided the following information about the Immigration Health Surcharge: “Most non-EEA nationals applying for temporary leave to enter or remain in the UK for longer than 6 months must pay an IHS to the Home Office at the point of visa application. Income raised from the IHS goes to general UK government funds and is then distributed to devolved health administrations (including England) under the Barnett formula. It has raised over £1.5 billion since it was introduced. The IHS will also apply to EEA nationals moving to the UK after the end of the transition period (subject to ongoing negotiations with the EU) under the UK’s new points-based immigration system” – UK Government, Immigration health surcharge: guidance for reimbursement, (1 October 2020)
- In May 2020 the UK Government announced an Immigration Health Surcharge exemption for health and care staff workers. This exemption, however, does not include international volunteers working in, or applying to work in, the UK as volunteers in health and social care, or in other settings for charities based in the UK. Camphill Scotland and our partners are campaigning to ensure the UK Government extends the exemption to international volunteers.