Immigration bill will leave more than 200k jobs unfilled

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Immigration bill will leave more than 200k hospitality restaurant and bar jobs unfilled

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Trade body UKHospitality has warned that more than 200,000 job vacancies across the sector will be left unfilled if the Government’s new immigration bill is enforced in its current form.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has told the Sunday Times​ that “vital segments of the economy would grind to a halt” if plans to introduce a points-based system and salary threshold were brought in.

“It will be noticeable for consumers in terms of price and choice, and MPs in parliament will have to get used to self-service — not silver service,” she says.

Last month the Government revealed its plans to end ‘low-skilled’ migration from the EU​, with the Home Office saying it will cut ‘unskilled’ immigration from the bloc by 90,000.

Under the new system, those wishing to come and work in the UK from the EU would have to secure a job with a minimum salary threshold of £25,600.

Those earning less than £25,600, but more than £20,480, would still be able to apply for a visa if it was to work in a “specific shortage occupation” role; while anyone earning less than £20,480 would not be able to take a job in the country.

The proposals would effectively make it impossible for hospitality businesses to secure EU migrants for entry-level positions, and has prompted tourism groups to launch a coalition to call on the Government to protect their industry as the bill goes through parliament.

The newly-formed Tourism and Hospitality Action Group – whose eight members include ABTA, the travel association, the British Beer and Pub Association, ETOA (European Tour Operators Association), and Cumbria Tourism – has written to prime minister Boris Johnson with a list of demands.

These include enhancements to the points-based system, such as the inclusion of in-demand foreign languages as a trade-able asset, and regional points variations to respond to differences in the UK labour market; establish mandatory regular reviews of the Shortage Occupation List; and work with the sector to encourage people to join the hospitality and tourism workforce.

“The hospitality and tourism industry in Cumbria has tried to plug the labour shortages by providing transport for local workers, flexible working patterns and employing older, retired people but the industry still has the highest level of job vacancies, the highest level of difficult-to-fill vacancies and the highest level of retention difficulties in the county," says Gill Haigh, managing director for Cumbria Tourism.

"Businesses are committed to increasing productivity but access to labour is already at a cliff edge point.”

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