The Home Office is mulling plans for "barista visas" to support the hospitality sector after Brexit

 
Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 (Source: Getty)

The UK could grant a raft of new "barista visas" after Brexit under plans being considered by ministers to help support the hospitality sector.

Ministers are mulling the plans put forward by crossbench peer and Migration Watch UK chair Lord Green.

The proposal would grant young European citizens two years to live in the UK and work in the sector, but would not allow visa holders to claim benefits or free housing.

In doing so, it would expand the existing Youth Mobility Scheme currently available to Commonwealth countries including Australia and New Zealand.

A senior source at the Home Office told The Sun, which revealed the proposal, it was "a good idea".

It comes after the hospitality sector has repeatedly raised concerns over loss of access to workers. Pret a Manger HR director Andrea Wareham warned peers last month that just one person in 50 applying for jobs at the sandwich chain is British.

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Migration Watch UK deputy chair Alp Mehmet told City A.M.: "It would be a useful way of helping many people, as well as meeting a demand for people doing these jobs in the Prets or the Costas and Starbucks, that some people say we will be short of.

"It would be giving an opportunity to young in a way we have been doing with other countries."

However, Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman questioned the plans, warning that too much government micro-management of visa rules "is bound to go wrong".

"The government is slow and bureaucratic and open to being lobbied. Established sectors may benefit while others don't.

"t's not smart – we should go for a Swedish-style system where a job offer is enough to get a visa in most cases, or if we're determined to have a limit on numbers we should auction visas off so they go where the market thinks they're most useful," Bowman said.

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A Home Office spokesperson said: "Leaving the European Union allows Britain to take control of our immigration system. We are working across Government to identify and develop options to shape our future system to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people.

"It is logical to consult on proposals to make sure businesses, services and communities can contribute their views.

"However, as we are currently considering the various options as to how EU migration might work once we have left, it would be wrong to set out further positions at this stage.”

British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim added: "The BHA has already told the government that the hospitality and tourism industry needs to have access to an EU workforce for years after Brexit.

"We've indicated that this reliance should decline each year as more UK workers are recruited but with UK unemployment so low we will need to recruit EU nationals. We have been encouraged by recent announcements recognising the industry's needs and look forward to working with the government to reach a sustainable solution."

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