Sacha Lord calls for ease of Brexit restrictions

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Urgent review needed: Sacha Lord (pictured) has called for BREXIT visa restrictions to be eased to aid sector's workforce crisis
Urgent review needed: Sacha Lord (pictured) has called for BREXIT visa restrictions to be eased to aid sector's workforce crisis

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Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has called on the Government to ease Brexit visa rules to stem the jobs crisis hitting the hospitality sector.

Lord​ has sought support from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) for a relaxation of current visa rules for entry-level hospitality staff, including waiters and line cooks, to be placed onto the Government’s shortage occupation list, which offers lowers barriers of entry and reduced visa fees for certain professions.

He said: "The right to work and live in the UK is now considerably more restricted for EU citizens.

“This is a challenge that is significantly impacting employers and creating a relentless employment gap in a sector​ already ravaged by debt burdens and weakened consumer spending.

Countless warnings 

"We have not yet seen a realistic or pragmatic approach to stemming this recruitment crisis despite countless warnings from the hospitality sector this crisis would not only come to fruition but escalate post-covid.”

This comes as CGA recently reported one in seven hospitality jobs were unfilled, forcing almost half (45%) of hospitality businesses to operate at reduced trading hours, while a third have had to close for at least a day due to staff shortages.

Furthermore, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed in March almost 100,00 EU nationals had left the accommodation and food services sector in the two years to June 2021 due to the pandemic as well as difficulties meeting the criteria needed in the EU Settlement Scheme introduced during Brexit. 

EU workers looking to join the UK workforce currently require a skilled work visa in addition to a minimum set of qualifications and minimum salary threshold of £25,600 per year and a full-time work placement.

Urgent review 

While the data from CGA also showed 77% of operators had increased pay to retain and attract staff, resulting in an 11% increase in average pay levels for hospitality over the last 12 months, figures from ONS​ earlier this week confirmed there were some 176,000 job vacancies in the sector.

Furthermore, Monday (18 July) saw the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) state the shortage of workers across all sectors could cost the UK economy​ £30bn every year unless the problem was tackled.

Lord added: "We were promised that bilateral relations with countries such as Australia would ease the difficulties, but two years on from our official exit from the European Union, we still do not have any immediate, credible policies in place to aid businesses in their time of need.

"We require an urgent review of the Visa restrictions and a greater level of hospitality roles placed onto the shortage occupation list, in order to stave off further irreparable damage to a sector that brings £66bn per year into the UK economy."

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