The report – 'Policy options for future migration from the European Economic Area: Interim report' – was published on 31 July to inform parliament and the public about the limited statements so far from the Government on future migration policy, expand on the range of options for future European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) migration, and the potential trade-offs between future immigration policy and future economic and trade relationships.
While the report doesn’t put forward a preferred option on migration policy, it calls for the Government to acknowledge the high levels of disaffection with the current arrangement for non-EEA nationals.
The report’s conclusion adds: “As well as considering the future for EEA migration, we recommend that the Government reconsiders its approach to non-EEA migration. The Government should also reconsider the recommendations in our earlier report and actively seek to build public consensus behind its chosen approach.”
Support for ‘overhaul’
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It is vitally important for the beer and pub sector that there is a clear focus on immigration policy and this is why we have previously welcomed the Government’s announcements on applications for settled status, as 24% of all employees across the BBPA’s membership come from abroad, of which 71% are from the EU.
“The BBPA shares the concerns of the Home Affairs Committee, however, regarding the lack of debate on policy options to date and that as soon as is practical after the Migration Advisory Committee reports, the Government must bring forward detailed immigration policy options for consultation. It is vital that businesses are able to access the skills and people required to support economic growth and that there is greater certainty for this. As part of this, the BBPA also supports an overhaul of the UK’s arrangements for non-EU nationals.
“As recognised by the Home Affairs Committee, there is now a greater understanding by the electorate of the benefits of overseas workers in the UK and the role they play. For brewing and pubs, this means there needs to be a review of the tier system. There is a real shortage for pubs when it comes to recruiting chefs, who would not qualify for tier two status. In this regard, it has been good to see the Government’s proposals that the Youth Mobility Scheme be extended to the EU as part of the recent announcements following the Chequers Summit.”
Need for open debate
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The report has rightly identified the need for an open debate on immigration and the need to take into account a range of views, not least of all UK businesses.
“The country’s future immigration policy should not be determined by a narrow ideological viewpoint, it should support the needs of the country and benefit the UK economy. We are hopeful that the Migration Advisory Committee’s report will highlight role migrant workers play and their importance, particularly to hospitality.
“Businesses will not have long to adjust to the new policy, whatever form it takes, so the Government must act quickly to ensure employers are not left behind. The Government also needs to ensure that the management of immigration goes beyond just the numbers so that it is managed in a way that benefits communities.
“UKHospitality has made the case for the sector and will continue to do so as we approach the Brexit date and beyond.”
Full conclusions from the Migration Advisory Committee are expected in autumn 2018.
The report can be read in full here.