Home Immigration News Why Home Office visa plans will be ‘nail in the coffin’ for UK hospitality

Why Home Office visa plans will be ‘nail in the coffin’ for UK hospitality

by source

Rise in salary requirements will further fuel staff shortages in industry that relies on skilled migrant workers.

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A chef preparing a cheese and basil pizza

What do you call an Italian restaurant that doesn’t serve pizza?

During the 2022 Edinburgh fringe, Gusto’s restaurant in the city sounded like the punchline to one of the comedy festival’s jokes. Pizza wasn’t on the menu at the Italian restaurant because it had no maestro to wield the pale, the long-handled tray used to ferry the dough in and out of the kitchen’s searing-hot oven.

“The fringe is our busiest month in Edinburgh, but we had to close two days a week and couldn’t sell pizza,” says Gusto’s chief executive, Matt Snell. “Pizza chef is a skilled job and we could not find one. Our sales were a third of what they would normally have been.”

Closures linked to staff shortages cost the business £750,000 that year.

Salvation – the “gamechanger”, according to Snell – arrived when he realized that the 14-strong restaurant chain could tap into the government’s skilled-worker visa scheme. On the proviso that Gusto could show recruiting domestically was impossible, the company could pay the government £3,000 a time for a license to hire chefs from overseas on a temporary visa.

Bravissimo, staff shortage solved.

“In the last 18 months we have recruited 30 chefs and have spent over £200,000 on this project,” says Snell. “It has been the difference between keeping restaurants open or closed.”

That lifeline – and the pizza – is now under threat from a Conservative government policy that many in hospitality feel prioritizes political calculation over economic realism.

Under plans to cut migration by 300,000 a year, the minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker visa will increase from £26,200 to £38,700 from April. The same salary threshold will apply to anyone, including British citizens, who wants to bring family members to the UK, although this has been delayed to 2025 after a government U-turn prompted by widespread dismay.

These policy changes could have a chilling effect on an industry still reeling from Covid, rampant inflation and the resulting cost of living crisis, businesses fear. What’s more, the government made its decision, according to the trade body UK Hospitality, without any consultation with the industry.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/jan/11/why-home-office-visa-plans-nail-in-coffin-uk-hospitality

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