UK Govt Revokes Operating License For A Care Company Set Up And Run By A Zimbabwean Nurse
15 March 2024
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A care company has had its licence to sponsor workers from abroad revoked by the Home Office amid an investigation into claims it was breaching migrant worker rules.

Support Services First Choice Limitedset up by a Zimbabwean national Ottilia Chingosho is being investigated by the UK government, which says it will not tolerate what it calls “illegal activity in the labour market”.

The Hawick-based firm provides healthcare workers who support people living in their own homes across the Borders region.

But its international sponsorship licence, which allows it to use relaxed immigration rules to fill vacancies, has been suspended after concerns were raised over how staff were treated.

In a statement, the Home Office said the care provider was found to be non-compliant with the requirements for organisations that hold a sponsor licence for migrant workers.

It said it would be “inappropriate to comment while an investigation is ongoing” and that “any accusations of illegal employment practices are thoroughly looked into”.

Under its rules – based on a 37.5 hour working week limit – staff must be paid a minimum of £20,960, or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher.

Those found operating unlawfully, and paying staff less, can face prosecution.

The revoking of the licence was first reported in The Times,

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) confirmed it was working with the Home Office to alleviate care worker shortages created by the current investigation into the company.

In a statement, the local authority said: “A care provider has lost their international sponsorship licence and we are engaging with all parties to ensure continuity of care.”

It added it was “unable to comment” on “the exact circumstances that led to the loss of the licence” which are the subject of the inquiry.

The firm was registered to an address at Edinburgh Napier University, before moving to Teviot Crescent in the centre of Hawick in 2021.

The Scottish government’s Care Inspectorate confirmed it was “aware of Home Office action” in relation to Support Services First Choice.

In a statement, it said it was “working closely with SBC and partners to ensure people continue to experience care which meets their needs and respects their rights”.

Scottish Care, who represent the largest group of social care providers across Scotland, said it “recognises international staff are a critical part of the delivery of all social care in Scotland”.

A spokesman added: “It is critical those coming to work in Scotland are supported in a manner which is both ethical and legal, and which supports their rights and dignity”.

He added that “illegal practices are never acceptable in any circumstances”.

Support Services First Choice have been approached for comment.

-BBC News