Commenting on the report, BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said:
“We broadly welcome the MAC report and the evidence it provides that migrant workers play an important role in the UK economy, without having a major effect on the employment of UK workers. Increased productivity is vital to the economy and the MAC report acknowledges this, as does the Government’s Industrial Strategy. With this in mind, we’d urge the Government to support the proposed Tourism Sector Deal and its emphasis on skills, which the BBPA is prepared to back with financial contributions if the Government supports it.
“We have previously called for a review of the Tier system and welcome the proposal from the MAC that the Tier 2 visa bracket be expanded to cover a wider range of occupations. However, we have serious concerns about retaining the salary cap of £30,000 as pub chefs, who are very much in short supply within our sector, would in many cases not meet the cap. Nonetheless, the proposal to reduce the qualifications for the Tier 2 visa bracket from RQF6 to RQF3, which would consider the experience offered by pub chefs, rather than just qualifications, is most welcome.
“It is good that the MAC report has recommended that the administrative burden of the Tier system be reviewed for SMEs. No small pub could take on the current sponsorship requirements as they stand, let alone the cost and bureaucracy that currently goes with it.
“Whilst broadly welcoming the recommendations of this latest MAC report, we still feel that the MAC does not recognise the important role of the hospitality industry in the UK and the serious issues that migration caps will bring to the sector. On average, as many as 24% of workers in pubs are from overseas – rising to as much as 80% in some urban areas – meaning that any cap which does not recognise the deficit in talent will cause hardship for pubs and could ultimately lead to more closures. This is why we continue to call for the extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows young people up to the age of 30 from a prescribed list of countries to work in the UK for up to two years. Considering some 42% of employees in pubs are under the age of 25, extending the Youth Mobility Scheme to the whole of the EU is most welcome, as has already been proposed in the Chequers Agreement.
“We look forward to building on the MAC report in our discussions with the Government, but would urge more emphasis on the requirements for soft skills, which are so vital to the pub sector and contribute to the multi-faceted nature of our society and communities.”