Conservative party plans to reduce immigration if successful in this year's general election could harm the eating and drinking out sector.
That's the warning from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) as Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the Conservatives' Manifesto, which is due to be published next week, will plan to bring net migration down to below 100,000 people per year.
Last year, net migration hit an all-time high of 336,000. The most recent figures in the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report by the Office for National Statistics estimated it now stands at 273,000.
The ALMR is reminding politicians that the industry is a ‘fantastic local employer with the majority of its staff coming from within the UK' however, the sector still needs to access overseas employees.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The eating and drinking out sector is heavily reliant on non-UK workers, particularly those from the European Union. Almost a quarter of the total hospitality and tourism workforce is comprised of non-UK workers and nearly half of those are EU migrants.
"This is a significant portion of the workforce, and pubs and restaurants will need to hire even more over the next few years if they are to continue growing. With the country running at almost full employment, eating and drinking out businesses will inevitably have to look oversees to fill vacancies. This is not a calculated preference for oversees workers, it is simply a matter of filling a shortage.
"Eating and drinking out businesses also hire locally and help provide employment in every region of the UK. Three quarters of the hospitality and tourism workforce is home-grown and pubs and restaurants provide work and spend a significant amount of time and money recruiting and training their staff.
"That notwithstanding, there is still a need for businesses to have access to non-UK workers to fill roles that otherwise would not be filled and ensure that businesses can succeed.
"If the next government places a low cap on immigration, then high street businesses will struggle to fill vacancies and we may see businesses suffer as a result."
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