Drop in Migrant Numbers a Concern for Business

The hospitality industry is growing increasingly concerned about the continuing fall of EU immigrant numbers in the wake of the Brexit referendum. According to the latest statistics released by the ONS, 139,000 EU residents left the UK in 2017 and only 101,000 arrived in Britain making it the lowest figure for four years, stats show. The group UK Hospitality, representing over 700 bars and restaurants across the country, described the latest set of figures as alarming. The CEO highlighted the fact that the bulk of those people leaving are low skilled workers – with many of them coming from the hospitality industry. She went on to say ‘ the hospitality labour pool is shrinking, with a quarter of employers in the industry already saying that they are struggling to fill in vacancies.’

It is a well known fact that, especially in major cities such as London, the hospitality industry relies heavily on EU migrants – particularly those from Eastern Europe. A study carried out in 2017 showed that 75% of the waiting staff in the UK were from other EU countries, as well as 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff. Although there has been a rise in the number of immigrants from outside the EU, these individuals tend to be highly skilled migrants, not working in the hospitality sector.

There is also growing concern about there being still no deal on the table, making it difficult for companies to plan for the future. Business is still awaiting clarification on what kind of deal the UK is looking to seek post-Brexit and if EU migrants will still be able to easily come to the UK to work in the hospitality industry. Bar and restaurant bosses are concerned that they will have severe staff shortages if the government doesn’t grant easy access to low skilled workers to the UK labour market as is currently the case.