Following announcements by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel), and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Matt Hancock), earlier this week, I would like to further update the House on progress made by the Department of Health and Social Care towards implementing the immigration health surcharge exemption for health and social care staff, as announced by the Prime Minister on 21 May 2020.
The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrated our continued commitment to supporting our health and social care workforce and their families, not least because of the support they have provided to all of us throughout the covid-19 pandemic.
Our election manifesto included the commitment to introduce an NHS visa. As set out by the Home Secretary, next month, we will launch a health and care visa, following the fees regulations that were laid yesterday. This will make it cheaper, quicker and easier for the best health and care professionals to come and work in the UK. The launch of this new visa will also mean that for the very first time, overseas health and care staff on this visa will not need to pay the immigration health surcharge upfront, either for themselves or their dependents.
I am, however, conscious that this visa does not exempt everyone in the health and care sector who has paid the immigration health surcharge, such as the thousands of overseas staff working as direct care workers in social care, or as cleaners, porters or healthcare assistants throughout the NHS. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to reiterate what the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care confirmed in the House yesterday: that all employees working in the health and care sector that have paid the immigration health surcharge on or after the 31 March 2020 will be eligible for a reimbursement of what they have paid since that date, including those vital staffoutlined above.
This reimbursement will be paid in arrears of six-month increments. This ensures we only reimburse those workers and their families who have worked in the sector for an appropriate period of time. This will also provide an incentive to continue working in the health and care sector. I can confirm that this scheme will be launched by 1 October 2020. This is the earliest date that eligible workers and their families would be able to claim a reimbursement. My officials continue to work with colleagues across Government, the devolved Administrations, representative bodies and the health and care sector to ensure those who are eligible for reimbursement are accounted for within the scheme, and my Department will publish further details of the scheme in due course.
These are significant steps in ensuring that our health and social care workforce and their families are themselves cared for, after they have cared for and supported so many of us in incredible circumstances.
My Department will make further announcements to update the House on the progress of the immigration health surcharge exemption and the reimbursement scheme, and relevant documents will be published on www.gov.uk in advance of the reimbursement scheme launching in October.