Response to the UK Government on their points-based immigration scheme announcement

19th February 2020

The impact of today’s announcement by the UK Government to implement a points-based immigration system cannot be underestimated.  As Britain enters a new phase of life post-Brexit, from December 31st EU-UK free movement will cease with new criteria required to be met to enable a non-skilled worker to enter our workforce.

Examples being used in the media to highlight the points required include University Researchers and PhD students in topics such as in STEM; highly skilled roles which don’t reflect our workforce at large - where does hospitality sit within that grouping?  According to a 2018 report by UK Hospitality, our sector is the 3rd largest employer in the UK, accounting for 3.7m jobs through direct employment in 2017 and over £72bn of GVA to the UK economy.  

These roles wouldn’t be considered ‘highly skilled’, but our colleagues, many of whom are European nationals, want to do this type of work, whilst applications from unemployed people are few and far between. Within the Government report they cite ‘wider investment in technology and automation’.  Technology has an enormous role to play within our industry and as yet it remains mostly untapped, but it’s there to support guests and staff, to streamline operations and to increase revenue.  It fundamentally underpins what makes businesses such as hotels more efficient.  But it’s our hospitality workers and colleagues who drive our economy; provide that ‘warm welcome’ recognised around the world and deliver a reason for visitors to return to the UK time and time again.  

Brexit has already had negative impacts on our sector as many of our European colleagues left the UK due to uncertainty and feeling unwelcome. The long-term impacts of Brexit on the hospitality sector is something we may have to come to terms with. However it is crucial that we continue to access the right talent and diversity of experience and the Government needs to urgently review their proposed system before its impacts have a catastrophic impact on our sector ability to function and continue to deliver that must needed £72bn of GVA. 

Julie Grieve, Founder & CEO, Criton