Industry Hits Out At Proposed Curb On “Low-Skilled” Migrants

Proposed restrictions to cut to the number of low skilled EU migrants working in the United Kingdom. After Brexit have been criticised by industry leaders.

A leaked paper which is believed not to be signed off by ministers has suggested that the United Kingdom will adopt a “more selective approach” on EU migration which will be based on the United Kingdom’s economic and social needs, thus ending free movement of labour in 2019. The document leaked to the Guardian newspaper also states that the government will look at issues such as skills shortages, and introducing a system that would end the right to settle in Britain for most EU workers, and will also implement restrictions on rights to bring in family members.

The document said, “the public must have confidence in our ability to control immigration from the EU. Although net migration from the EU has fallen over the past year, we cannot exercise control over it. At present, as free movement gives EU citizens are right to reside in the UK, regardless of the economic needs of this country”

Responding to the leaked document BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds, comments:

“This document suggests that there may be a cap on low-skilled workers which would undermine the needs of the pub industry, where we rely a great deal on those with the soft skills needed to provide great hospitality.

“Whilst the brewing and pub sector does employ thousands of UK citizens, 17 per cent of our 900,000 employees are from overseas and this rises to 40 per cent plus, in metropolitan areas. For some companies it is much higher, particularly for kitchen staff.”

“The UK’s low unemployment rates are going to make it extremely hard to replace these employees with UK nationals. If there were to be a cap for EU employees, it must be at a level that can sustain our industry.

“It is however, good to read that the Government will be taking on board the views of the Migration Advisory Committee.  The BBPA is already in touch with the Committee and they are keen to meet with us.

“Overall, there must be a greater understanding of the needs of our sector from Government, if we are to continue to compete for customers and provide the service and quality expected from overseas and domestic visitors; some 14 million of which visit the great British pub every week.”

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:

“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.

The Government need 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. Our research, from KPMG, shows that at least 60,000 new EU service workers are needed per year just to fill the vacancies in hospitality. The research showed that 75 per cent of waiters, 25 per cent of chefs and 37 per cent of housekeepers are EU nationals. And in London and the south-east, especially, some business rely totally on EU service workers. 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?

That said the BHA has already submitted to the Government a 10-year-plan to encourage more UK people to consider a career in hospitality. It will take this long. The idea that so-called ‘unskilled workers’ would be able to stay for up to two years, whereas others can stay longer, is deliberately discriminatory and with other restrictions will add unnecessary red tape. We understand the need and the wish to reduce immigration but we need to tread carefully and be aware of the unintended consequences – some businesses will fail, taking UK jobs with them.”