Restaurants warn immigration cap could stall growth

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurant industry issues warning over immigration caps

Related tags European union United kingdom Immigration

Conservative party plans to reduce immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’ could put the brakes on the growth of the UK's restaurant sector, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned.

The trade body, whose members include Wahaca, Wagamama and Casual Dining Group, said the industry was ‘heavily reliant’ on overseas workers to drive expansion .

Speaking in Harrow this week, Theresa Mary indicated that the Conservatives would aim to cut migration to a ‘sustainable’ level.

Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that net migration, which is the difference between people entering and leaving the UK, totalled 273,000 in the year ending September 2016.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates that 700,000 EU citizens currently work in the UK hospitality industry.

“Almost a quarter of the total hospitality and tourism workforce is comprised of non-UK workers and nearly half of those are EU migrants,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR.

“This is a significant portion of the workforce, and pubs and restaurants will need to hire even more over the next few years if they are to continue growing.”

Restaurants and pubs have been left in limbo over the fate of their EU staff after MPs passed the Brexit bill without guaranteeing the residency rights​ of migrants currently living and working in the UK.

A recent BHA study warned​ that the sector is facing a recruitment crisis and could need to find 60,000 replacement workers per year if EU migration is restricted after Brexit.

“With the country running at almost full employment, eating and drinking out businesses will inevitably have to look overseas to fill vacancies,” said Nicholls.

“This is not a calculated preference for overseas workers, it is simply a matter of filling a shortage.”

Related topics Business & Legislation Fine Dining

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