UK Hospitality has supported calls from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to scrap immigration targets after Brexit.
The CBI has called for a system that ensures those coming to the UK make a positive economic impact, but does not restrict immigration to high earners.
It suggests EU citizens should be registered on arrival, with visits restricted to three months for those who cannot “prove they are working, studying or self sufficient”.
The business group said applying the current non-EU immigration schemes to those from the EU post-Brexit would hit small businesses.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This report highlights the pressing need for a future immigration policy that exists to support the UK economy. The CBI’s report also underlines the need for a discussion about the realities and practicalities of migration to the UK and its effect on business.
“The hospitality sector is particularly in need of a future policy that provides employers with access to talent to support continued investment and growth, alongside our work to develop domestic talent. This means acknowledging the need for a variety of workers across the sector at many levels, not just those who are deemed highly skilled. We particularly welcome the recommendation to secure the rights of current EU citizens in the UK, regardless of an exit deal.”
However the Home Office has maintained its commitment to reducing immigration to the “tens of thousands”.
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Freedom of movement will be ending. The building blocks of a successful new migration system for the UK begin with an honest and open debate that has been absent from politics. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the NHS, pick fruit or deliver products to stores around the country. This would hurt us all – from the money in our pockets to our access to public services.
“The needs are more complex than only ensuring that the UK can attract the ‘brightest and best’. Housebuilding needs architects for design, labourers to dig foundations and electricians to help finish the job. In the food and drink sector, the supply chain starts with agriculture, then logistics and ends with retail.
“This is no longer a theoretical debate – it’s about the future of our nation. False choices and sloganeering must be avoided at all costs. Openness and control must not be presented as opposites. Public attitudes towards migration and the impacts it has on communities are far more nuanced. Scrapping blunt targets, ensuring all who come to the UK contribute and using the immigration dividend to support public services will add to public confidence.
“For global Britain to succeed, the UK must send the right signals that show it remains open and welcoming to the world. That means putting migration on the table in trade talks to get us a better deal, first with the EU and then other countries where it is clear existing visa restrictions inhibit trade and foreign direct investment.”
Source: The Caterer