The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has described leaked proposals to cut the number of low-skilled immigrants from Europe permitted to work in the UK after Brexit as potentially “catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry”.
A document leaked to The Guardian contains proposals to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants, offering them residency for a maximum of two years.
The 82-page document details plans for only workers in “high-skilled occupations” to be granted permits to stay in the UK for a period of three to five years. It states: “We are clear that, wherever possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour. It is now more important than ever that we have the right skills domestically to build a strong and competitive economy.”
BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said that the government should consider the 10-year plan it has submitted, which it believes is required to adequately reduce immigration without businesses failing and “taking UK jobs with them”.
She 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% of waiters, 25% of chefs and 37% 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 4.5 people nationwide?”