The Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association has welcomed the Government’s decision to ask the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the economic consequences of tighter controls over EU migrants but remains concerned that this is coming too late as the lack of assurances are already hitting the industry, particularly with reports of Cabinet splits over the issue.
Jim Winship, PAPA Director, said: “Although there are now signs of the Government taking a less intransigent position over immigration with talk of a three-year transition period, the potential implications for our industry make it essential that we keep up the pressure.
“Unfortunately, the Committee will not report until September 2018, leaving businesses with the uncertainty that is already leading to some EU workers leaving and discouraging others from taking up jobs in the UK. Some members are already reporting significant difficulties in recruitment of both skilled and unskilled employees.”
Research by The Pizza Pasta & Italian Food Association suggests that more than half the workforce currently working in restaurants and pizza delivery businesses across the UK might have to leave if there is no agreement with Europe. Most of these could not be replaced by British nationals.
In some London restaurants, the issue is more critical with some 70% of employees coming from mainland Europe or elsewhere. Without overseas workers, the industry would struggle to provide the level of service consumers have come to expect and many might be forced to close.
In fact, there is already a shortage of skilled pizza chefs in the UK with the uncertainties of Brexit causing some Italian pizzaiolos to return to Italy or take up jobs in mainland Europe.