The on-trade has been reacting to the government’s announcement of a new points-based immigration system.
The new system will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions, and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points. There will be no specific route for ‘lower-skilled’ workers, although the Youth Mobility Scheme (for young people who want to live, work and travel in the United Kingdom for a period of up to two years) will be continued.
‘Skilled workers’ will need to meet a number of relevant criteria, including specific skills and the ability to speak English, to be able to work in the UK. All applicants will be required to have a job offer and, in line with the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations, meet a minimum salary threshold.
“The new points-based immigration system will present significant challenges for our sector,” says Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association. “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 10 months. Pubs will especially struggle with the costs and complexities of becoming a sponsoring employer in order to take on staff from outside the UK.
“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. We will continue to press our case with the government to ensure they understand this need, so that the pub and hospitality sectors continue to thrive. We believe it is crucial that, for example, the Youth Mobility Scheme is now expanded to help facilitate this.”
“People who work in hospitality contribute a huge amount to our economy, and in a time where pubs, bars and restaurants are keeping our high streets and communities alive, we should be supporting them however and wherever we can,” adds BII COO Steven Alton. “Hospitality work is not ‘low-skilled’. Training and development in our industry is fantastic; career progression is clear, but we rely heavily on labour from overseas and to change this in 10 months will put an incredible amount of pressure on businesses of all sizes.
“We need to have an immigration system that supports the already under-staffed hospitality sector and encourages the growth that we know we can achieve alongside the right business rates reform.”