BBC’s Emily Maitlis has skewered immigration minister Kevin Foster over emergency hospitality visas, saying the industry is “crying out” for a larger number of permits. However, Mr Foster responded by saying the Home Office is “not looking at introducing a general visa with no workplace training requirements that you can pay at or near the minimum wage”. The grilling came as a survey shows three-quarters of pub and restaurant bosses say they are increasing pay to attract hospitality staff.
Mr Foster said: “We look at some sectors that have been roles in there that have not received the type of paying package or awards that when for the type of career development opportunities that we look to see in other sectors.
“It’s good to see some of those starting to develop. Our constituency has a very large hospitality sector.
Emily Maitlis chipped in: “I mean they’re already there. That’s what you’ve been hearing.
“The wages are already increasing. They still can’t get the staff.”
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Emily Maitlis continued: “They’re crying out for temporary visas for hospitality and the Home Office is still gonna say no.
“Is that right?”
Mr Foster said: “Well, what we said is we’ve broadened the areas that you can recruit in skilled labour and skilled work, but we’re not going to do is create a general rule for recruitment at or near the minimum wage with no work-based training requirements.
“We think it’s not unreasonable. given that’s a very simple question for hospitality.”
Ms Maitlis asked again: “They are crying out for emergency visas. That’s a very simple question.
“If they say they need emergency visas, are you going to say yes?
Mr Foster replied: “Well we’re not looking at introducing a general visa with no wor-0based training requirements so you can pay at or near the minimum wage.”
A survey of 200 senior executives from across the hospitality industry revealed that one in six jobs currently lies vacant.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of hospitality operators and food for Europe said: “These figures illustrate the full scale of hospitality’s recruitment and retention crisis.
“Thousands of businesses are now critically short of staff, while many of those who have sufficient labour face a fight to keep hold of it.
“Gaps at front and back of the house and fast-rising wage costs threaten to derail the industry’s recovery, and sustained, targeted Government support is now urgently needed to tackle the problem.”
The shortage of staff put “severe pressure” on medium-sized businesses across the UK.