Net migration from the EU has fallen to its lowest level since December 2012, prompting industry figures to demand clarity on the country's long term immigration plan while focusing on skills above nationality.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed EU migration has continued to fall year on year for the seventh consecutive quarter.
There are 36,000 fewer migrants in the UK in the year ending March 2018 compared to the year ending March 2017.
The figure is split between people leaving and entering the country, with 17,000 more people leaving year on year, and 19,000 fewer EU nationals entering the UK.
However the period has still seen a net increase in migrants,of 28,000 people. The fall in EU migrants has largely been offset by migration to and from Asia. 41,000 additional Asian nationals entered the country over the period, and 4,000 fewer left. Of the 46,000 net Asian migrants, 30,000 are from South Asia and a further 9,000 are from South East Asia.
Responding to the latest migration figures, Ibrahim Dogus, chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, said:
"With over a third of takeaway restaurants experiencing skills shortages, particularly for chefs in specialist cuisines, and more than a third saying Brexit will make it more difficult to recruit staff, it's vital that the immigration system enables the sector to access the skills it needs from both inside and outside the EU.
"That's why the government's post-Brexit immigration white paper should outline a long-term immigration system that does not discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants, and instead prioritises areas of skills shortage - helping to support thousands of takeaway restaurants.
"We are also urging the Migration Advisory Committee to use its review of the Shortage Occupation List to address the absurd anomaly which allows for the recruitment of specialist chefs for restaurants, but, bizarrely, not for those working in takeaways. This action needs to go hand in hand with investment in high-quality vocational training in order to build a pipeline of home grown talent, which it is why it is critical the new Catering and Hospitality Technical Level is designed in collaboration with industry."