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Bacta CEO calls for visa rules change

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Bacta, the amusement machine industry body, wants the UK Government to relax visa rules for the sector’s workers.

According to Bacta CEO John White, adding roles to the UK’s ‘Shortage Occupations List’ would be a vital step.

White says that the industry is struggling with a Brexit-driven exodus of workers coupled with the hangover of Covid-19.

Labour shortages

“Brexit coupled with the impact of Covid has led to many of the European workers who were employed in hospitality returning to their country of birth and simply not returning to the UK,” White says.

“Their perception is that the UK is no longer an attractive proposition for various reasons, not least the cost-of-living crisis, employment opportunities and the bureaucracy involved in gaining work visas.

“The fundamental change that Bacta members require is for the government to place jobs in our sector on the shortage occupations list. Having a more dynamic approach to labour shortages is paramount.”

Visa rules

The Shortage Occupations List relaxes visa eligibility rules in numerous sectors deemed to be understaffed and of particular importance. The current list covers agriculture, building, fishing and plastering, among other roles.

White believes such a designation would help to counter a labour crisis facing companies in amusements and low-stake gaming.

“From a business perspective the free movement of people was a godsend,” he adds.

“However, it was not what the population voted for in 2016 and it’s unlikely to return. The big challenge for this and for future governments is to identify how to replicate the benefits of free movement and balance the outcome with the political imperative of demonstrating that the UK has control of its borders.”

Missed opportunity

In March, White praised aspects of the UK government’s spring budget, whilst criticising inaction in other areas.

“This was a missed opportunity to adjust some key unfairness in our tax regime,” said White.

White also lamented the missed opportunity to reform gaming tax structure.

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