A £1,000 fee levied on each EU worker coming into the UK after Brexit would be a “devastating blow” to the hospitality sector.
That’s according to the Lake District Hotels Association (LDHA), reacting to news earlier this week that government ministers were considering such a charge.
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill told peers that the “immigration skills levy” could be introduced for EU migrants and would help British workers.
Downing Street has since distanced itself from the proposal with prime minister Theresa May’s spokesperson saying that Goodwill’s comments had been misinterpreted, according to The Guardian.
Tim Rumney, vice chair of the LHDA, said: ““Enforcing this fee will be nothing short of devastating for the hospitality industry, an industry that contributes around £143 billion to the UK economy and provides employment for an estimated 4.6 million people.
“Several of our member hotels employ European workers, many of whom have worked their way up through the ranks to management positions and built careers for themselves here and are now fearing for the future of their jobs. We are already struggling to fill positions from food and beverage service right up to heads of department because of an absence of good applicants. This policy would pull the rug out from under our ability to employ quality staff from overseas and add even more cost and red tape into our industry.”
Rumney added that he felt that hospitality had been disproportionately affected by government legislation over the past year.
“What we now need to see is some form of clarity and reassurance on how Brexit will affect European workers in the UK,” he said.
May, who has so far offered little detail on the government’s negotiating stance on Brexit, is expected to give a major speech on the issue on 17 January.
Late last year, British Hospitality Association (BHA) chief executive Ufi Ibrahim warned that the UK hospitality industry could be “pushed to the cliff edge” by Brexit unless more is done to safeguard the future of the workforce that keeps it running.