BHA Response to leaked immigration proposals

Today a leaked document from the Home Office, revealed draft plans to end freedom of movement immediately after Brexit and offer low-skilled EU migrants two-year work permits, with high-skilled workers receiving visas for three to five years.

Commenting on the leaked plans, Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:

“If these proposals are implemented it could be catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry and for those who enjoy the hospitality it brings – whether it be in restaurants, theatres, hotels, bars and tourist attractions.

The Government need to be urgently reminded that so-called unskilled workers in hospitality - the ambassadors for our country - are necessary. It is not just the bankers and the lawyers that are needed to fill the employment gaps. Our research, from KPMG, shows that at least 60,000 new EU service workers are needed per year just to fill the vacancies in hospitality. The research showed that 75 per cent of waiters, 25 per cent of chefs and 37 per cent of housekeepers are EU nationals. And in London and the south-east, especially, some business rely totally on EU service workers. The UK has near full-employment so where are the recruits going to come from for the UK’s fourth largest industry that employs over 4.5million people nationwide?

That said the BHA has already submitted to the Government a 10-year-plan to encourage more UK people to consider a career in hospitality. It will take this long. The idea that so-called ‘unskilled workers’ would be able to stay for up to two years, whereas others can stay longer, is deliberately discriminatory and with other restrictions will add unnecessary red tape. We understand the need and the wish to reduce immigration but we need to tread carefully and be aware of the unintended consequences - some businesses will fail, taking UK jobs with them.”

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