BHA: Leaked Brexit plan could be 'catastrophic' for hospitality

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

BHA: Leaked Brexit plan could be 'catastrophic' for hospitality

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The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned that Government plans to cut the number of low-skilled EU migrants working in the UK could prove ‘catastrophic’ for the hospitality industry.

The proposals feature in a leaked Home Office memo obtained by The Guardian​ which outlines plans to end free movement of labour immediately after Brexit.

The memo, dated August 2017, says businesses will be encouraged to hire UK staff unless they can prove an ‘economic need’ for EU workers.

Under the plans, lower-skilled EU migrants will be offered residency for a maximum of two years while those in ‘high-skilled occupations’ will be granted permits for three to five years.

“If these proposals are implemented it could be catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry and for those who enjoy the hospitality it brings – whether it be in restaurants, theatres, hotels, bars and tourist attractions,” says BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim.

“The Government needs to be urgently reminded that so-called unskilled workers in hospitality - the ambassadors for our country - are necessary. It is not just the bankers and the lawyers that are needed to fill the employment gaps.”

KPMG research commissioned by the BHA​ shows that at least 60,000 new EU service workers are needed per year just to fill the vacancies in hospitality.

“[In} London and the south-east, especially, some business rely totally on EU service workers,” says Ibrahim. “The UK has near full-employment so where are the recruits going to come from for the UK’s fourth largest industry that employs over 4.5 people nationwide?”

However, the memo suggests sectors with severe skills shortages such as hospitality may still be taken in to account under new immigration plans.

It proposes introducing a more ‘selective’ approach to migration based on the ‘economic and social needs of the country…rather than leaving this decision entirely to those wishing to come here, and employers’.

Ministers have not yet signed off the 82-page document.

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