Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has said the Government are “putting dogma over saving Oxfordshire’s hospitality sector” after a Home Office Minister turned down proposals from the industry to introduce a Covid Recovery Visa. In response to a parliamentary question tabled by Layla Moran, Minister Kevin Foster said the Government will not consider introducing the measure.
The Oxfordshire MP, who has been campaigning for a recovery visa after hearing from businesses suffering from staff shortages in her constituency, said the Government was “ignoring the urgency of the problem” and that “businesses in my constituency are at risk.”
Layla added: “The crisis facing pubs, hotels, restaurants, and producers in the sector is of the Government’s own making, and now they’re refusing to clean up the mess.”
Layla Moran MP said: “It’s clear that the Government is putting dogma over saving Oxfordshire’s hospitality sector. Their botched Brexit deal, damaging points-based immigration system, and handling of the pandemic means that businesses in our community face the threat of closure despite restrictions being eased.
“I’m beyond disappointed. Businesses in my constituency are at risk. Instead of helping them, the Conservatives are ignoring the urgency of the problem. The crisis facing pubs, hotels, restaurants, and producers in the sector is of the Government’s own making, and now they’re refusing to clean up the mess.
“Of course we need to encourage more local workers to enter hospitality and give them the skills to enter the sector, that’s very important, but Boris Johnson needs to help my constituents and the sector recruit the staff they need right now if they’re going to survive. A Covid Recovery Visa remains essential if we’re going to keep hospitality businesses in our communities open in the months ahead.”
Baz Butcher, Landlord of The White Hart of Wytham, a village pub in Layla’s constituency, said: “Because of the workforce crisis affecting hospitality, I’m now forced to close two days a week. I cannot find staff. The UK Government’s approach and policy is economic suicide for just about every entrepreneur left in the country. At the very moment when I should be trading very profitably and begin repayment of the significant loans I took on last year – to adapt and keep my business solvent after 3 lockdowns – I’m struggling for survival.
“Since reopening again in April, I’ve established and made offers of employment very enticing for any prospective chef or front of house server: full training on the job if needs be, no experience necessary, free live-in accommodation, the most generous remuneration and strict limits on hours to be worked to ensure a healthy work/life balance. But we’ve had no even vaguely suitable candidates apply for either the chef or front of house server positions.
“If I cannot find employees urgently in the run-up to Christmas – when historically we generate over 30% of our annual revenue in one month - this business will cease trading and no doubt this village pub will, like so many others, fall into the hands of housing property speculators. Consider also the impact on our suppliers – mostly small-scale independent farms, growers, fisheries and livestock producers (all UK based) - where our orders to them are down by 25%.
“The workforce crisis can only be solved by the Covid Recovery Visa otherwise I will have only two choices: insolvency or price increases of between 10% and 15%.”