The hospitality industry has welcomed the news that the government has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a detailed study on EU workers in the UK.
The study will look at the costs and benefits of EU migrants, migration trends, the impact on competitiveness, the benefits of focusing migration on high-skilled jobs, and the impact of migration cuts.
The Home Office has asked the committee to consider the regional distribution of EU migration, which sectors are most reliant on it, and the role of temporary and seasonal workers.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: "Over 700,000 Europeans work in hospitality and tourism, and although we are determined to rely less on EU service workers over the coming years, it will take time. In March KPMG published a report, commissioned by the BHA, which showed that in the event of free movement ending and no successor regime being put in its place, the industry would need to recruit an additional 65,000 UK workers each year in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers to replace churn and to power growth. Our industry recognises that immigration policy needs to change, however, at a time when unemployment is at its lowest since 1975, we will still need access to the European workforce.
"The BHA has been campaigning for several months for an enlarged role of the Migration Advisory Committee and welcome the government commissioning the MAC to undertake a detailed study on EU workers with businesses throughout the country. We believe this should go further and the MAC should advise government on the number of visas for all strategically important sectors including hospitality and tourism, the fourth largest industry in the UK. Britain needs services workers as well as scientists and engineers, and we look forward to having a serious dialogue with the home secretary as we get into the detail of a new immigration law."
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed the plan, but warned that clarity for businesses is overdue.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "A detailed investigation into the benefits of migration and the various differing needs of regions and sectors is a positive step from the government. It is absolutely vital that we have in place a system that is not burdensome, costly or overly bureaucratic and provides employers with access to employees. A report that understands and appreciates the value of, and need for, migrant workers should be a benefit.
"It would, however, have been useful if the government had set about this task immediately after the referendum. Extra time for the government to assess overall picture and for businesses to plan would have provided much-needed certainty and clarity.
"The ALMR has been highlighting this issue for a year and pressing the government for a proper examination of this issue since the referendum. We will continue to do so, to ensure that no burdensome requirements are made of eating and drinking out businesses during the short period between the report's publication and Brexit."
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