The Government finally backed down to relax immigration restrictions to allow for more foreign workers to plug the labour gap this week after the petrol panic buying crisis hit.
The industry had been calling for a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa to help ease the current crisis facing the lack of HGV drivers and the lack of labour.
The government revealed over the weekend that up to 10,500 lorry drivers and poultry workers can receive temporary UK visas as the government seeks to limit disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
5,000 drivers eligible
It confirmed that 5,000 lorry drivers would be eligible to work in the UK for three months, until Christmas Eve. The scheme is also being extended to 5,500 poultry workers.
The hospitality sector has been facing a shortage of workers. A poll of 350 leading companies in the summer by leading trade bodies UKHospitality, British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping found that 84% were working as front-of-house workers with vacancy levels at 10% or 200,000 workers.
Nine in 10 recruiters (88%) recently said that labour shortages are one of their biggest concerns for the remainder of 2021, while skills shortages are a major concern for two in three (65%).
“We welcome this move from Government, and their recognition of the significant issues facing the supply chain in the UK. We have been communicating to Government throughout the summer about the significant impacts this was having upon the sector and the need for such a measure,” said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.
“We are hopeful that the introduction of temporary visas for workers in the haulage and poultry sectors will help to alleviate the pressure on hospitality businesses.
“However, hospitality has been severely impacted by supply disruption and labour shortages since reopening this year. With consistently low unemployment and a tight labour market, Government needs to act further and extend temporary work visas to hospitality to bring an end to the current disruption experienced across the sector before we move into the winter months and crucial festive trading period.”
The UKHospitality call comes as more than 65 hospitality leaders have written an open letter to the prime minister via the Financial Times demanding immigration requirements for hospitality workers be eased urgently.