Visa rules will be relaxed to allow more foreign construction workers to come to the UK in a bid to tackle labour shortages in certain industries.

The Government is expected to relax rules for roofers, plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers to plug gaps in the construction labour force and boost economic growth.

But there will not be similarly loosened rules for hospitality staff, despite repeated calls from those in the sector to do so, i understands.

The new guidelines are due to be published tomorrow by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which was commissioned to carry out a report into the shortage occupation list in September.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to sign off on the recommendations, with sources saying all parties had agreed to the changes, and they will be announced around the same time as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt presents his Budget.

The new rules form part of the Government’s plan to reduce the chronic shortages in the UK workforce caused in part by Brexit and increased economic inactivity among Brits.

The shortage occupation list details specific skilled jobs the UK workforce is unable to meet industry demands for. It allows employers to bring in workers from abroad without them having to meet the higher salary thresholds and visa fees.

Roles already on the list include some healthcare workers, engineers, lab technicians and architects. MAC previously recommended the government add all care workers to the list but ministers have not done so.

The committee is now holding a wider call for evidence on shortage occupations and is expected to report back with wider recommendations later in the year.

The hospitality industry, which has been struggling to fill vacancies since a reduction in European staff, has been lobbying to be classed as a shortage occupation.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told i the ongoing labour shortages in the industry were “crippling hospitality businesses, forcing them to reduce their hours and costing the industry billions in lost trade”.

She said: “With shortages in the sector two-thirds higher than pre-pandemic, it’s clear there aren’t enough active people in the economy to fill all the roles we need, despite the extensive work the sector is doing to recruit domestically, including the economically inactive.

““It is hugely disappointing that MAC has not taken the sensible and pragmatic step to reinstate chefs onto the shortage occupation list. It was wrong to remove them in April 2021 and wrong to exclude them now.

“We urge MAC to carry out a broader review as part of longer term inquiry to ensure we have access to the skills we need to keep the economy firing on all cylinders.”

By admin