Tim Farron and hospitality leaders meet Kevin Foster to discuss staffing crisis in Cumbria

Hospitality leaders are worried about staffing this Easter Credit: Office of Tim Farron MP and Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron MP and Lake District hospitality leaders met the Minister for Immigration, Kevin Foster to discuss the staffing crisis in the tourism industry.

The MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale was joined by Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, and Joe Cobb, Executive Manager at Lake District Country Hotels.

85% of hospitality businesses were concerned about being able to staff their business adequately this year, according to a recent survey from Cumbria Tourism.

One topic of the meeting was to encourage the minister to extend the Government’s Youth Mobility Visa to include countries in Europe.

The Youth Mobility Visa allows people aged between 18 to 30 to live and work in the UK for two years, but is only currently available in Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and Iceland.

After the meeting, Tim said: "We have a world class hospitality industry in Cumbria.

"Having survived through the last two years of lockdown, it’s now a tragedy that many businesses are struggling to survive because they simply can’t find the staff.

"The minister was very receptive to our case to extend the Youth Mobility Visa Scheme and agreed to update us on progress.

"With Easter – which is such a crucial time for the tourism sector – just five weeks away, it’s so important that this is urgently addressed."

Gill Haigh argued that the lack of staff impacts businesses recovering from the pandemic.

She said: "We made it very clear to the Minister that there continue to be urgent staff shortages within Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality industry,  and these challenges are stifling business recovery with many unable to operate at full capacity.

"It was a constructive meeting and youth mobility was a key issue discussed. We also made it clear that we believe there needs to be more flexibility within the new post-Brexit points-based immigration scheme regime, as well as simplification of the processes to enable businesses to sponsor international workers."