Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, has spoken out in Parliament on behalf of some of the many Bath businesses who are suffering labour shortages and other challenges as a result of Brexit.
We raised concerns of local businesses in Bath hit by issues caused by Brexit and tough immigration rules which means they cannot find the staff they need. The answer, she says, is to introduce visa waivers to plug the gap causing these businesses such difficulties.
The call comes just two weeks after the Confederation of British Industry warned that the UK faces 2 years of labour shortages, with food prices increasing. This shortage has also driven up food prices, with lorry drivers particularly hit.
In Bath, concerns have been raised by numerous businesses ranging from English language teaching schools, to care homes, hotels and restaurants. Just last week it was announced that the famous Christmas market will have to be scaled down.
Earlier this year, Ms. Hobhouse raised concerns for English language teaching schools in Bath, calling for Government support for these schools with Brexit posing a threat to the industry.
“The title of the Government’s statement - ’Brexit: Opportunities’ - was very much a contradiction in terms. People recognise that we have now left the European Union. I urged the Government to be pragmatic about what happens on the ground, for example in Bath which is a global tourist destination. I know of businesses operating shortened hours because of severe staff shortages caused by Brexit and the new immigration system.
“I asked what the Government is doing in the next 12 months to address these lost economic opportunities in the hospitality sector. The response I received from the Paymaster General was unsatisfactory. He denied that Brexit is having any impact on the tourism sector which, as we know in Bath, simply isn’t the case.”
“Each day, we are seeing new negative impacts of Brexit on many sectors of our economy. The fact that the Bath Christmas market has had to be scaled down significantly is the latest example.
“The national recruitment crisis for security and specialist staff and equipment has made it impossible to run our beloved market, which is one of the largest in the country, safely, securely and at a reasonable cost at full scale.
“It is important that we push for visa waivers to enable workers from the European Union to return to plug the gap in workers, and that the Government has a robust plan to support businesses that are suffering.”
“I know that B&NES Council will do everything they can to make the best of the situation by offering a modified Christmas programme that will bring festive cheer to our city centre. But the fact remains that Brexit is throwing up new roadblocks just when our businesses are doing their utmost to recover from the hardships of the pandemic.”
READ WERA'S ANNUAL REPORT:
SIGN UP TO WERA'S MONTHLY BRIEFING: