Home UK Immigration Foreign worker visa changes will hurt pubs, restaurants and UK economy, warns Cobra beer founder

Foreign worker visa changes will hurt pubs, restaurants and UK economy, warns Cobra beer founder

by source

It comes as law firms reported a steep increase in the number of skilled worker visa applications as companies race to get them in before the immigration changes.

Changes to foreign worker visas will hit the hospitality industry and prevent the British economy from growing, a beer tycoon has warned.

Crossbench peer and Cobra lager founder Lord Karan Bilimoria said the new wage thresholds, due to come into force in March and April, would put further strain on the labour market.

Lord Karan Bilimoria told the House of Lords: “In my own business of Cobra Beer, in the hospitality industry, we supply 7,000 restaurants—a £54 billion industry in terms of tax receipts alone, employing 3.5 million.

“The changes to the immigration system, set to be implemented in April, mean that the minimum salary needed to get a skilled worker visa will rise from £26,200 to £38,700.

“That will further shrink the talent of good people that the hospitality business needs.

“The reality is that 75 per cent of hospitality jobs are domestic, but we still need to recruit from abroad. How is our economy meant to grow without access to labour?”

It comes as official figures showed the economy slumped into recession last year, dealing a hammer blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s growth pledge.

The Office for National Statistics said GDP fell by a worse than expected 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2023. That followed a 0.1 per cent dip in the third quarter.

The Home Office announced in December that there would be a wave of new restrictions on people coming to Britain, and their family members, in a bid to bring down legal immigration.

However, any Skilled Worker Visa applications received before April 4 will be accessed under the old rules, the Government has said.

Law firms reported a steep increase in the number applications as companies race to get them in before the changes.

Kelvin Tanner, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, said the biggest rise had come from the hospitality industry.

“The size of the salary increases that businesses are facing is what is causing the rush to apply,” he said.

“Despite shortages of skilled workers in many sectors, it will become unviable for businesses to utilise the Skilled Worker visa route to fill certain vacancies with overseas workers.

“Amongst our clients, we have seen the biggest rush to file applications within the hospitality, retail and manufacturing sectors and for regional roles that would be unable to meet the higher minimum salary thresholds when they are introduced.

“Although salary levels are often higher in and around London, the size of the planned increases means that they will still cause difficulties for employers.

“We have clients in the hospitality sector in London that were already finding it very difficult to fill vacancies for specialist chefs from within the UK following the end of EU free movement.

“In addition to training people locally, they were forced to develop overseas recruitment pipelines that will become unviable based on the new Skilled Worker salary levels.

Source: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/hospitality-pubs-home-office-visa-changes-economy-cobra-beer-b1139414.html

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