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No-deal Brexit disastrous for industry, says Immigration Advice Service

Sector faces potential shortfall of 60,000 workers, but if done right Brexit could be 'brilliant move'

A no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for Europeans in the hospitality and events industry, according to the Immigration Advice Service (IAS).

The sector faces a potential shortfall of up to 60,000 workers if the UK crashes out of Europe without a deal, according to Damon Culbert, political commentator for the IAS. However, he also said that if done right, Brexit could be a brilliant move.

Culbert said: “For Europeans in the hospitality and events industry, a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous. With an immigration target that seems impossible to meet and the possibility of no future relationship agreement by the time we leave, the government is going to have to work with industries to save us from the cliff edge.”

He highlighted the potential skills gap that a no-deal Brexit could bring.

“While Europeans have been assured that their rights will be respected even in the event of no deal, the process for registration could put many off staying much longer.

“The registration process, also known as the EU Settlement Scheme is a £65 application which can be completed on a smartphone, tablet or computer. Although the government has assured citizens that this application will be simple and that the burden of proof will fall on the Home Office, many Europeans may simply decide that it’s too much effort for them to remain.

“Considering between 12 per cent and 25 per cent of workers in the hospitality sector are from the EU, a mass migration to the continent with no new migration would cripple the industry. Even if the Europeans that hospitality depend on stay, if there is no new migration from Europe after 2019 there could be a shortfall of up to 60,000 workers.”

He added that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that up to 96 per cent of all EU workers in hospitality would not be eligible for the Tier 2 Work Visa route the government currently operates.

“This means that, if these positions go empty as a result of Brexit, the government’s current immigration system will not enable them to be filled,” he said. “Even with freedom of movement for Europeans, the hospitality sector struggles to fill all its positions which are often ‘low-skilled’ and customer facing.”

He also addressed the pro-Brexit claims that leaving the European Union would enable Britain to trade freely with the rest of the world, welcoming visitors from across the globe and activating new markets.

“While Britain would most certainly have the chance to expand our trade to the rest of the world, the UK contributed 5.8 per cent of the worldwide events revenue, whereas mainland Europe was responsible for 14.4 per cent,” he said. “Coupled with the threat that Brexit could make the UK a less attractive meeting place for cautious events planners, going into direct competition with the rest of Europe could be much more risk than it’s worth.

“Many events experts have also noted that a dip in the pound would encourage visitors, meaning profits would be up as people rush to take advantage of the devalued sterling in the Brexit aftermath. We have seen a drastic rise in migration this year which is said to be due to the weak pound, showing the short-term benefits to the event industry of the Brexit vote.

“Overall, we still don’t know what the events industry will look like post-Brexit. The global events and meetings market could be just the right place for Britain to thrive. However, if we’re not careful Britain could become the least attractive option to work or participate in the events sector.

“Despite a level of uncertainty not seen before, Brexit done right could be a brilliant move by a government beset by scandal and unrest on all sides. It seems far clearer, though, that no-deal Brexit would be more trouble than it’s worth.”

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