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Govt immigration plans to disrupt hospitality sector

Published:  24 February, 2020

The hospitality sector fears damage from the government’s new point-based immigration plan, a new survey has revealed.

The number of business leaders who think a points-based system will have a negative impact outnumber those who think it will be positive by two to one (41% over 21%), according to the latest CGA Business Leaders Survey, which was conducted before specific details of the government’s proposals were announced.

Over three-quarters of respondents (77%) want to see sector-specific labour shortages taken into account when setting criteria for potential workers – above language skills (56%), skilled work experience overseas (40%) or offers of employment (38%).

Some 53% of the those currently employed in the UK hospitality industry are overseas workers.

A significant majority of those surveyed (66%) would also like to see a system of temporary visas lasting for either 24 or 36 months to ease labour shortages.

Commenting on the findings, CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said: “We know that staff shortages are a huge concern for many restaurant, pub and bar operators, and the new proposals on immigration are only going to make things worse.

“A points-based system could dramatically affect access to labour, which would hurt investment, weaken the high street and—because we know that service and customer satisfaction are closely intertwined—ultimately reduce the pleasure of eating and drinking out.”

The government’s proposed points-based immigration system will come into effect in January 2021.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, a progressive think tank, the system will rule out around 70% of EU workers currently in the UK.

The CGA Business Leaders Survey is run in partnership with Fourth, a cost-control technology service for the hospitality sector. Respondents to the survey comprised 174 senior hospitality managers at chief executive, chair or director level.

Harpers has more on the impending employment crisis in the hospitality sector here.