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MP and Cumbria hospitality leaders meet with minister over staffing crisis

March 15, 2022 8:54 AM

Tim with hospitality leaders and the Immigration MinisterLast week, Cumbrian MP Tim Farron and Lake District hospitality leaders met with the Minister for Immigration, Kevin Foster, to discuss the ongoing staffing shortages in the tourism industry.

Tim was joined by Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises, and Joe Cobb, Executive Manager at Lake District Country Hotels.

The minister heard that the staffing crisis has led to 63% of hospitality businesses, while 85% were concerned about being able to staff their business adequately this year, according to a recent survey from Cumbria Tourism.

Tim and the group of hospitality leaders encouraged the minister to extend the Government's Youth Mobility Visa to include countries in Europe.

The Youth Mobility Visa allows people aged between 18 to 30 to live and work in the UK for two years, but is only currently available Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and Iceland.

Speaking after the meeting, Tim said: "We have a world class hospitality industry in Cumbria.

"Having survived through the last two years of lockdown, it's now a tragedy that many businesses are struggling to survive because they simply can't find the staff.

"The minister was very receptive to our case to extend the Youth Mobility Visa Scheme and agreed to update us on progress.

"With Easter - which is such a crucial time for the tourism sector - just five weeks away, it's so important that this is urgently addressed."

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said: "We made it very clear to the Minister that there continue to be urgent staff shortages within Cumbria's tourism and hospitality industry, and these challenges are stifling business recovery with many unable to operate at full capacity.

"It was a constructive meeting and youth mobility was a key issue discussed. We also made it clear that we believe there needs to be more flexibility within the new post Brexit points-based immigration scheme regime, as well as simplification of the processes to enable businesses to sponsor international workers.

"Given the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine we also asked how the sector can provide support by providing employment. Over the weekend we have seen Government announcements regarding housing for Ukrainians and we hope to see this taken further to enable job matching opportunities as well."