Food-to-go industry leaders have cautiously welcomed the government’s Brexit transition agreement with the EU while calling for a clearer framework on immigration after 2020.
The government announced yesterday that EU citizens arriving during the transition period between 9 March 2019 and 31 December 2020 will have the same rights and guarantees as those who arrive before Brexit.
“The plan will provide businesses with more peace of mind and give employers a chance to begin drawing up their plans for their businesses post-Brexit,” said UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls.
“A full right to remain during the transition period with a chance to work towards full status will provide non-UK EU workers with an opportunity to come to the UK with a sense of security and stability. With a significant portion of the UK’s hospitality workforce coming from outside the UK, this is the clarity and assurance we have been calling on the government to deliver.
“The government now needs to communicate this message as widely as possible to reassure businesses and their employees, and to make sure EU citizens are aware of the opportunities that still exist for them. The next step is for the government to begin, in earnest, putting in place the framework for future immigration policy at the soonest opportunity.”
BCA chief executive Chris Stemman added: “The UK coffee industry, as with many UK industries, is dependent on EU migration, and will continue to be after 31 December 2020. For this reason, although the UK government’s announcement on the rights and guarantees of EU citizens arriving during the transition period is a very welcome one, it will only delay the problem of migration and its potential impact until later.
“The coffee industry is an important part of the UK economy and the Brexit process poses many difficulties including trade and tariffs, as well as migration, so we are hopeful that the government can continue to provide reassurances on these issues during ongoing negotiations.”
This comes after Caffè Nero business development director Paul Ettinger raised concerns about ending free movement at a food-to-go conference lunch in September last year, saying it would have a “very, very serious impact on the whole of the hospitality industry”.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, warned the government in October that the hospitality industry was not in a position to fill staff vacancies without hiring EU workers. She added that if the flow of EU migrants was restricted it would hit the industry’s economic growth hard and cost jobs.
BHA has since agreed to merge with ALMR to create UKHospitality.