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News & Press: General

Migration report would drive decline in hospitality workforce and undermine major part of UK economy

20 September 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Banks
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UKHospitality has reacted to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report into EEA migration in the UK – released earlier today – warning that the recommendations would drive worker shortages and undermine a major part of the UK economy, which employs over three million individuals.


The trade group said that the recommendations would, ultimately, lead to higher costs for both businesses and consumers, and impact service levels and the overall experience for hotel guests, restaurant customers and pub goers.


UKH has warned that any future immigration policy that favours highly-skilled migrants above low-skilled labour will undermine the hospitality sector’s efforts to provide jobs.


The report’s recommendations include:  

·         - making it easier for highly-skilled workers to migrate to the UK than lower-skilled workers  

·         - no preference for EU citizens  

·         - abolishing the cap on Tier 2 migrants  


UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said “The report states that there is no way to change the migration system without creating winners and, ultimately, losers. There is acute concern from this industry – which is a huge employer and significant part of the UK economy – that a new system that does not take into account the fundamental challenges being faced by in the sector will only ensure that businesses, their employers and customers are the losers.


“We have a world-class hotel, hospitality and eating-out market in the UK, but it is under significant pressure from mounting costs, a shortage of workers and economic uncertainty. This sector must not be overlooked in the UK’s departure from the EU, otherwise there is a very real risk of tangible and long-term damage to a sector that employs 3 million people and generates a lot more than £350m a week to the public purse*.  


“The sector invests significantly in its domestic workforce, employing over 2 million British workers and providing jobs in every region. We are very proud to offer opportunities, training and careers to UK employers and there are plans to use T-Levels and apprenticeships to continue to boost our domestic workforce. The MAC report acknowledges the ongoing need for medium- and lower-skilled workers but this cannot be met domestically.


“We are forecast to have 200,000 fewer 18-24 year olds who were born in the UK by 2020, so we have a labour shortage in hospitality, where young workers make up half the workforce. Some 90% of our jobs are not covered by the current visa regime. The reality is that the hospitality sector workforce needs supporting with additional non-UK nationals and many of them will be from the EU.  


“It is disappointing and frankly illogical to see the MAC report place too much emphasis on the economic worth of individuals, rather than the wider benefits they bring to the UK. If preference is given to high-skilled workers from outside of the UK, then hospitality businesses will struggle to fill vacancies, investment will dwindle and businesses will suffer. Ultimately we will all lose because the guest experience will also suffer.


“The expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme is a welcome first step, but this needs to be much greater in focus and with a wider scope of ages. Widening of the Tier 2 visa to incorporate more occupations can help, but there is still concern that smaller businesses will be deterred. It is crucial that EU migration policy is factored into a future trade deal with the EU, for the benefit of Britain, the EU and all citizens.  


“Any negative impact on hospitality businesses’ ability to employ is ultimately going to be felt by customers on high streets around the UK. We will be making these points to the Government, highlighting the dangers of a future immigration system that is disproportionately restrictive towards lower-skilled workers who are vital to the ongoing success of the hospitality sector and the wider UK economy.”  


*The UK Hospitality sector generates £750m per week or £39bn per annum to the public purse 



Notes to editors  


  • UKHospitality is the new trade body representing the UK’s hospitality sector, established following a merger approved in February 2018 between the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA)  
  • UKHospitality is the authoritative voice for over 700 companies, operating around 65,000 venues in a sector that employs 3.2 million people. The body speaks on behalf of a wide range of leisure and ‘out-of-home’ businesses, from FTSE 100 enterprises to niche groups and independent single-site operators. For the first time, the sector has a single voice bringing together businesses from all aspects of hospitality; coffee shops, hotels, serviced apartments, pubs, restaurants, leisure parks, nightclubs, contract caterers, entertainment, stadia and visitor attractions
  • Engaging with government, the media and the public, UKHospitality works to develop a robust case on how to unlock the industry’s full potential as the biggest engine for growth in the economy and ensure that the industry’s needs are effectively represented
  • The sector creates £130bn in economic activity and generates £38bn of tax for the Exchequer, funding vital services. Hospitality represents 10% of UK employment, 6% of businesses and 5% of GDP
  • Hospitality is the 3rd largest private sector employer in the UK; double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined
  • Member benefits include free advice and expert guidance on regulation, finance and health and safety as well as savings on services from carefully selected business partners.  

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