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Government’s immigration proposals widely condemned

Government’s immigration proposals widely condemned

Hospitality industry appears to be united in its negative response to proposed points-based system for immigrants

On Wednesday (19 February) the Government announced that it wants to “end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country” by imposing tougher entry requirements on immigrants. The new points-based system, which also includes a minimum salary threshold of £25,600, comes into effect on 1 January 2021.

Commenting on the proposed new immigration system, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time will be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people. Business must be given time to adapt.

“These proposals will cut off future growth and expansion and deter investment in Britain’s high streets. It will lead to reduced levels of service for customers and business closures. Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce. We are facing record low levels of unemployment, a dip in young people entering the labour market and have the highest vacancy levels of any sector.

“We understand the Government’s desire to deliver on the referendum result and its aim of moving to a skills-based immigration system. We fully support the ambition to upskill the domestic population and provide opportunities for people in every part of the UK. These proposals fail to deliver on the Government’s own objective of providing an immigration system which works for the UK’s economy and its people.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, voiced similar concerns: “The new points-based immigration system will present significant challenges for our sector. Many pubs rely on workers from overseas, so it is hard to see how they will cope with such fundamental changes coming into effect in just ten months.

“The new points-based system should recognise the staff shortages our sector faces, therefore enabling talent coming to the UK to work in pubs by making up points elsewhere.” 

Johan de Jager, UK country Manager, Brigad – a hospitality platform for professionals – also believes that the proposed skills-based requirements for entry into the UK are worrying. He said: “There is a huge risk that any new legislation could have a very detrimental impact on the industry at large.

“In the regions where we operate – London, Manchester, and Edinburgh – it is no secret that the hospitality workforce largely comprises international workers. We see in particular that entry-level positions exist as a great way for talent to develop, be it in terms of better language skills or widening their hospitality skillset. By limiting the ability of foreign nationals to work in the industry, as these new regulations have the potential to do, there is a huge risk of draining the pool of talented professionals who show tremendous potential.”

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