Layla Moran has called on Boris Johnson at PMQs to back Oxfordshire’s hospitality sector by introducing a Covid Recovery Visa so that hoteliers and others can “make the most of the summer season”. After asking her question at PMQs on Wednesday (16th June) Layla said she was “incredibly disappointed” on behalf of the industry that the Prime Minister “failed to fix a problem of his own making.”
Moran raised the case of Kevin, a hotel manager in her constituency, who “told me last week” in a surgery that “he’s worried”. He told her that even when the country fully opens up, his hotel “won’t be able to operate at full capacity due to chronic staff shortages.” The hospitality sector is usually worth £2.5bn in annual revenue in Oxfordshire, but many businesses won’t be able to fully reopen after lockdown because of severe staff shortages in skilled positions.
Layla said the sector has been hit by a triple whammy of the pandemic, Brexit and the new immigration system: uncertainty in the sector due to the Government’s handling of the pandemic meaning workers are leaving for other jobs; Brexit means many EU citizens have left the UK, and the new immigration system means hospitality businesses can’t recruit enough people from abroad.
Layla Moran said “this is the Prime Minister’s wake-up call” and urged him to “introduce a Covid Recovery Visa to help Kevin recruit the staff he needs to make the most of the summer season”. The introduction of a recovery visa has also been called for by UKHospitality.
Speaking after PMQs, Layla Moran said: “Our hospitality sector needs the Prime Minister’s backing if we’re going to make the most of this summer season to save the industry and boost the local economy. So I was incredibly disappointed he won’t listen to hotel managers like Kevin. He’s failed to fix a problem of his own making.
“I hope today was his wake-up call. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, publicans, and others all need this Government’s support. The Prime Minister’s completely avoidable need to delay the end of lockdown, his botched handling of Brexit, and his damaging immigration system have dealt heavy blows to a vital part of our local economy.
“Of course we need to encourage more young Brits to enter hospitality, but Boris Johnson needs to help Kevin and the sector recruit the staff they need to survive, grow and create jobs. I hope he’ll join me in backing our hospitality industry and introducing a Covid Recovery Visa without delay.”
Hayley Beer-Gamage, Chief Executive of Experience Oxfordshire commented: "We are extremely concerned by the current workforce issues affecting the sector. A lack of an available and skilled workforce is going to severely impact service delivery across the hospitality and wider visitor economy sector. This will, in turn, affect our ability to recover from the pandemic and see businesses and destinations thrive again.”