The British Government’s proposed immigration rules have stirred significant concern among hospitality businesses, particularly in the Lake District and Cumbria. The new regulations, set to increase the minimum salary for foreign nationals working in Britain to £38,700 from £26,200, aim to reduce immigration numbers. However, this has caused alarm in areas heavily reliant on international workers, especially during the summer months, that’s according to a recent news article out by ITN News.

Miguel Sanchez, a Spaniard who has made Windermere his home over the past 14 years, currently the general manager of the Windermere Hotel, voices a common concern. “Many of us who came here, started in roles like waiting tables, and gradually moved up. We’ve contributed to the community, paying taxes, and building lives,” he says. “But under these new rules, it’s going to be challenging for others to follow this path.”

In establishments like the Windermere Hotel, where 90% of the staff come from abroad, the absence of foreign workers could mean a severe shortage in the workforce. “Next season looks daunting without the ability to bring in international talent,” Sanchez adds, highlighting the importance of foreign workers in sustaining the industry.

This sentiment is echoed across Cumbria’s hospitality sector. Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, shares her frustration: “Businesses are in disbelief. The ageing population here means we simply don’t have enough local people to fill these roles. This decision could critically impact our economy.”

In response to these concerns, the Future Economic Rural Network (FERN) has launched the “Rural Perspectives on New Immigration Income Thresholds” survey. This initiative seeks to gather opinions from rural communities on the new immigration salary threshold and its impact on local economies, especially sectors like hospitality that are highly dependent on international workers.

“The survey aims to provide a platform for rural voices, ensuring their unique challenges and perspectives are considered in the national dialogue on immigration policies,” explains a FERN spokesperson. “We urge individuals from all walks of life in rural areas, particularly those in sectors like hospitality, to participate and help shape the conversation.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly argues that the changes are designed to encourage employment of British workers. “We’ve analysed the figures; the hospitality sector is a significant employer of locals. We want to bolster this trend,” he stated in the House of Commons.

As the debate continues, FERN’s survey offers a crucial opportunity for rural residents to voice their concerns and influence policy decisions affecting their communities.

Considering the upcoming changes in immigration rules under the current Conservative government, FERN invites those engaged in rural communities to fill out our ongoing live form on our website page here.