New immigration plans 'will worsen staff shortages'

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

(image: Getty/benedek)
(image: Getty/benedek)

Related tags Legislation ukhospitality British beer & pub association

The Government’s changes to the immigration system will “further shrink” hospitality’s talent pool and contribute to greater shortages, one trade body has warned.

In the House of Commons yesterday (Monday 4 December), Home Secretary James Cleverly revealed the minimum salary required to get a skilled worker visa to the UK is increasing by almost 50% from £26,200 to £38,700.

He also said there will be a review to the shortage occupation list while the salary level for a family visa, which is separate to student and work visas, is also increasing to £38,700.

UKHospitality highlighted the changes will make the recruitment issues facing the industry worse.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls 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 the entire economy will be recruiting from and only worsen the shortages hospitality businesses are facing.

“About 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.

Wealth of experience

She added: “These critical workers also bring with them a wealth of experience and skills to help further enhance our world-leading hospitality sector.

“There were 8,500 hospitality visas issued last year, which helped bring in talented chefs and managers of the future.

“About 95% of those would no longer be eligible under these plans, despite being offered competitive salaries.”

She called for a fit-for-purpose immigration system that reflects the needs of businesses and the labour market.

Nicholls added: “The system at the moment does none of that.”

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) echoed the comments of UKHospitality about the impact on recruitment.

Blow for businesses

“While the hospitality sector continues to work hard to recruit and train staff from the domestic workforce, the Government’s changes to the immigration system, which will make the recruitment of skilled overseas workers harder and will be a blow for many pub businesses,” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said.

“This will compound the existing shortage of chefs and kitchen staff in hospitality and hold back sector growth, as the salary increase will make it untenable for many businesses to recruit from overseas alongside the associated costs and complexities that apply alongside this.”

McClarkin called for the Government to consider ways to reduce the overall costs and complexities of the immigration system, while recognising many firms in the sector are small to medium enterprises and a balanced immigration system that addresses concerns on overall numbers while fuelling growth and supports businesses.

She added: “As we enter the festive season, staff shortages in pubs can be exacerbated and skilled roles such as chefs and kitchen staff can be even harder to recruit the best staff.

“We support the Government’s ambition of expanding the Youth Mobility Scheme but this must be done at pace.

“We also need greater flexibility in the use of the apprenticeship levy so it can be used for a range of training options that will develop recruits from the domestic workforce.”

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