The government's decision to increase the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa will be met with "absolute horror" by the hospitality industry, a Liberal Democrat MP has warned.
The salary threshold for the visa is set to rise by almost 50%, from just over £26,000 to £38,700.
According to UKHospitality, around 95% of the 8,500 hospitality visas issued to skilled chefs and managers last year would no longer be eligible under the plans.
Home Secretary James Cleverly told the House of Commons today (4 December) the move would curb net migration to the UK, which hit a record 745,000 in 2022.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: "These proposals will be met with absolute horror in the Lake District tourism and hospitality industry. Twenty million people visit our communities every year and it's a £3.5b industry.
"Because of the failure of this government to provide sufficient affordable homes for local people and to have stupid visa rules, we now have a massive workforce crisis.
"Two thirds of our businesses are unable to meet the demand that they have because of inadequate numbers of workers. Has the Home Secretary spoken to anybody working in the Lake District hospitality industry or does he not care what they think?"
In his response, Cleverly said immigration officials had met with the 'Lake District Tourism board'.
He added: "The simple truth of the matter is we have analysed the figures, we know which sectors have brought in the most people. The hospitality sector is an incredibly important sector in the UK and a fantastic employer of local people and that's what we want to see in that sector."
A spokesperson for Cumbria Tourism, the official destination management organisation for the Lake District, told The Caterer: "Cumbria Tourism is very frustrated by the Government's announcement on Monday and is actively calling on Ministers to reconsider these measures and look at other options which will actively address the current labour shortages, rather than exacerbate them."
As part of the government's immigration crackdown, health and social care visas will be exempt from the raised threshold, but care workers will no longer be able to bring their dependants.
Chris Harber, head of immigration at law firm Boyes Turner, warned the increased minimum salary could leave hotels and restaurants of "all shapes and sizes" facing significant staff shortages over the next few years.
"[Many hospitality businesses] may go under directly because of this, and I'm not exaggerating here," he said.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "The Government seem to be running out of answers to fix the UK's long-running labour market shortages.
"These changes will further shrink the talent pool that the entire economy will be recruiting from, and only worsen the shortages hospitality businesses are facing.
"Around three-quarters of hospitality's workforce is filled from within the UK but international talent has always been attracted to work in the UK, due to our pedigree for hospitality and developing careers.
"These critical workers also bring with them a wealth of experience and skills to help further enhance our world-leading hospitality sector."