A TORY MP has said that care homes should recruit “local young people” instead of relying on foreign labour.

Miriam Cates is a part of a backbench group of Tory MPs calling for net migration to be brought down to below 226,000 before the next General Election.

The so-called New Conservative Group has today published a 12-point plan which outlines how the UK can reduce the number of workers coming into the country from overseas.

However, when pressed on how care homes would cope without recruiting foreign workers, Cates suggested that “local young people” would fill the gap.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, presented Mishal Husain told Cates: “There are residential care homes which simply would not be able to say to hospitals ‘we are ready, we have the beds, you can discharge people’ if they weren’t recruiting from overseas.”

Cates said: “But we have five million people economically inactive in this country.”

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However, Husain pointed out that “they don’t want to work in care” and that it is foreign nationals who often apply for jobs as care workers.

Cates replied that if pay were increased then people would be more likely to consider a job in care – but wouldn’t be drawn on how much it should be raised.

“Well, they’re not going to work in care until we make the pay and conditions good enough, and the only way we’re going to do that is to cut off the supply of cheap labour from abroad,” she said.

“Let me use the analogy of during the pandemic when we had an HGV driver shortage and lots of people called then to say we must issue more visas to abroad to get more drivers.

“But we didn’t, we made supply side reform and guess what? Haulage forms put up their wages, they attracted more workers and solved the problem without issuing visas to abroad.

“That’s exactly the same economic and market principle that we need to apply.”

But when Husain asked how much a care home worker should be paid, Cates said “I don’t know”.

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“You haven’t thought about it?” asked Husain.

Cates responded: “We could have an argument about how much we should pay for all different sectors.”

A frustrated Husain pressed on with her interrogation: “You would reduce health and care workers by half, the numbers that currently come in from overseas ...”

Cates said: “No, I would reduce the number of visas available.”

“They come in on visas,” Husain clapped back.

Cates then insisted that “local young people” would be working in care homes if immigration routes were closed.

Conservative Party chairman Lee Anderson has already backed the New Conservative Group’s plans.

However, despite repeated promises from Conservative government’s to cut the number of migrants coming into the UK, figures for the past year show that net migration rose to the highest figure on record of 606,000.