Itsu founder's stark warning on future of eating out unless migrants are given working visas

22 November 2022, 07:43 | Updated: 22 November 2022, 07:45

Itsu founder calls for two-year working visa to help ease staffing crisis

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Businessman and entrepreneur Julian Metcalfe set out the stark warning ahead of a speech by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warning business bosses the days of "low pay and cheap labour" must end.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the Itsu and Pret a Manger founder called for a "two-year working visa" for foreign workers to allow the hospitality industry to cope with a staffing shortage.

Mr Metcalfe said "everyone knows the inflation in all restaurants, hospitality, hotels, pubs, cafes, is appalling right now. Some places can't even open because the cost of staff has just gone through the roof."

He told Nick the "solution" to the staffing shortage was to "allow a two-year working visa" for those seeking to come to the UK for work.

"This country needs young people working, and a two-year working visa would allow that to happen."

Read more: Keir Starmer will warn business chiefs to end 'cheap labour' as Rishi Sunak quashes calls to ease migration laws

Nick questioned the business boss asking why young Brits weren't working in cafes and coffee shops, "we do" Mr Metcalfe replied but went on to say an influx of young European workers in the 19080s was a boom to the hospitality industry.

But he went on to issue a stark warning on the future of the UK hospitality industry unless something is done to bring in more workers.

"Not to allow them in is going to cause all of us to see the cost of going out and eating a meal will be too prohibitive."

Watch: ‘It’s a lazy term’: Shelagh Fogarty reacts to PM’s ‘best and brightest’ immigration plan

Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds says we should make 'immigration work' for the UK'

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Later today the Labour leader will signal in a speech that he would be willing to accept increased skilled immigration on the path to his vision of ending the "low pay model".

Addressing the Confederation of British Industry conference, he is to set out plans to "start investing more in training up workers who are already here".

Sir Keir will vow to be "pragmatic" about the shortage of workers and not to ignore the need for skilled individuals to come into the country if he forms a Labour government.

But he will stress that any changes to a points-based migration system "will come with new conditions for business".

"We will expect you to bring forward a clear plan for higher skills and more training, for better pay and conditions, for investment in new technology," he is expected to tell business leaders gathered in Birmingham.

"But our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency. To start investing more in training up workers who are already here.

"Migration is part of our national story - always has been, always will be. And the Labour Party will never diminish the contribution it makes to the economy, to public services, to your businesses and our communities.

"But let me tell you - the days when low pay and cheap labour are part of the British way on growth must end."

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