Brexit: Hospitality sector slams Government’s decision to exclude overseas restaurant and bar workers in shortage occupancy lists
Hospitality figures have described the government’s decision to not include overseas restaurant and bar workers in its shortage occupation list as “disappointing” as the sector claims that ongoing labour shortages are “crippling” businesses.
“Ongoing labour shortages are crippling hospitality businesses, forcing them to reduce their hours and costing the industry billions in lost trade,” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told City A.M.
Nicholls said that the trade body provided “compelling evidence and data” to the Migration Advisory Committee’s consultation ahead of the finalisation of the list to prove that the sector was struggling to get sufficient employees. It’s understood that a full review of the shortage occupation list is ongoing.
She continued: “With shortages in the sector two-thirds higher than pre-pandemic, it’s clear there aren’t enough active people in the economy to fill all the roles we need, despite the extensive work the sector is doing to recruit domestically, including the economically inactive.”
It comes as a government advisors in the Migration Advisory Committee revealed it had updated its shortage occupation list – allowing international bricklayers and carpenters to get work visas more easily in the UK.
However, hospitality which historically has had trouble recruiting was not included.
As part of the scheme, which falls under new Brexit guidelines, workers on the shortage occupation list are allowed to apply for a skilled worker visa to come and work in the UK.
A government report published on the same day also showed that from November 2022 to January 2023, compared with the period before the pandemic vacancies are 72 per cent higher in hospitality and 65 per cent higher in construction.
“London’s restaurants, pubs and bars help form the backbone of the city’s economy, yet this Conservative government has continually ignored their calls for help, Sarah Olney, Lib Dem treasury spokeswoman, told City A.M.
“The government immigration approach post Brexit is haphazard and non-sensical. I fail to understand why the building trade can get work visas but not hospitality. Let’s be honest. Brexit is not working and let’s get back to free movement of people in Europe and the single market.”