Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has urged government ministers to introduce a new visa to fix the staffing crisis in Cumbria’s hospitality sector.
The latest research from Cumbria Tourism shows that the scale of the staff recruitment challenge facing the county’s tourism and hospitality industry has doubled within a month.
Cumbria’s official destination organisation says that 68 per cent of businesses now say recruitment of staff is a significant problem – up from 34 per cent just over a month ago.
Mr Farron, who represents Westmorland and Lonsdale, has written a joint letter with the Isle of Wight’s Conservative MP Bob Seely to the immigration minister, Kevin Foster, asking him to extend the Government’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa to be extended to include European countries.
Speaking during a debate on the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, Mr Farron said: “This year, and in the past few days especially, people I have spoken to right across my community, from Grasmere to Grange, from Sedbergh to Staveley, have been telling me that they have fought and struggled, spent their life savings and gone into debt to survive COVID.
“They have been grateful for the Government support that has helped them to just about do that. Having survived COVID, guess what? Loads of them are closing now. Why? Because of the Government’s barmy, impractical, stupid visa rules.
“Home Secretary, why did you do all this? Why did the Government make provisions to support hospitality and tourism in the past 16 to 17 months if they were only going to kill them off by stupid visa rules at the end?
“The simple fact is that, if an Italian restaurant or a gastropub in the Lake District sources half its staff from overseas and half from the local area, if it cannot get the half from overseas and the business therefore closes, as dozens have done, the half who are local will lose their jobs too.
“So I will use the last few seconds to ask the Government to do something sensible – I and many Conservative backbenchers think this should happen – and have a youth mobility visa with the countries that are close to us in Europe so that we can at least provide a source of labour to protect excellent businesses from going under because of stupid Government policies.”