Artisan cafe

Hotels,cafes & restaurants could close if access to EU workers is lost

18 January 2017

London’s status and reputation as a hospitality hub could be at risk.

As Theresa May made her ‘hard-Brexit’ speech yesterday, the London Assembly Economy Committee discussed the risks to the hospitality sector if access to EU workers is lost.

The hospitality and tourism sector is labour intensive, requiring a high volume of people. A significant proportion - 15 per cent - of the industry’s workforce comes from the EU.

The Committee heard that small and medium-sized businesses will face closure if they cannot access the workers they need, and quickly, to sustain work flow from the EU.

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:

If there is no replacement of the EU workforce that we are able to access moving forward, then the risk would be that the majority of businesses who aren’t able to command very high prices or very high volumes would be at risk of ceasing their operations.

So yes, there would be a risk to many of the artisan cafes and restaurants, the modern leisure society that we have come to know and demand would be restricted. The offerings would be restricted.

Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: 

If there are changes to migration policy and access to EU workers is lost, it’s the hospitality businesses in the middle, which are at greatest risk. We don’t want to see successful hotels, cafes and restaurants closing and choices limited, because these businesses can’t access the right people. We need to get migration policy right, so London’s economy is not adversely affected.

With the risks posed by leaving the EU to London’s workforce, it is crucial that both employers and the Mayor look at how we are going to fill the gaps in jobs and skills. The hospitality sector is working hard to prepare for the future vacancies, but we know that further investment in training is essential for the longer term prospects of this sector.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the webcast of the meeting.
  2. Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the London Assembly Economy Committee, is available for interview. Please see contact details below.
  3. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.