A number of food associations have welcomed the Home Affairs Committee’s report on immigration, which calls for stronger co-ordination between immigration policy and the labour market, as well as open and honest debate on the issues.

The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association, together with the Pizza Pasta & Italian Food Association and Café Life Association have collectively called on the Government to recognise the reliance of many sectors of the food industry on immigrant labour, which involves short term stays in the UK.

They also stated that they “fully support” the call for differentiated approaches for different types of immigration and the need to better address public concerns that immigration rules are not enforced or are unfair.

In a recent submission to the Migration Advisory Committee, the aforementioned associations suggested the introduction of a visa system linked to businesses and employment, which it suggested could provide border authorities with better control over working migrant movements.

However, they expressed worries that “in the rush to introduce new EU immigration controls”, the low skilled migrant sector, upon which the food and catering industries rely heavily, could be “squeezed out by skills quotas”.

In a statement, they also highlighted concerns about the level of bureaucracy, their efficiency and the fees that might be applied.

The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association’s director, Jim Winship, commented: “Our sectors of the food industry make a substantial contribution to the UK economy but this could be seriously undermined if too stringent immigration controls are introduced, particularly for EU workers.

“In London, some 75% of those working in our markets are currently EU workers, many of whom are only in the UK for a few years. They tend not to be long term immigrants.”