Warning that Lake District tourism businesses could face delays in hiring overseas staff

TOURISM businesses in the Lake District may find it more difficult to recruit overseas staff quickly this season following changes to where national insurance interviews are carried out.

Overseas workers wanting jobs in the area's hotels and B&Bs previously had to attend interviews at Job Centre Plus sites in Kendal, Penrith or Carlisle, to get a National Insurance number before they could officially start work.

But in a sudden change, the interviews must now take place in Preston, says local councillor Ben Berry, who represents the Windermere Applethwaite and Troutbeck ward.

He said he was contacted by Andy Lemm, the general manager of the Wild Boar Inn at Crook near Windermere.

Cllr Berry said: "This is a very serious situation indeed. Cumbria attracts many hardworking non-UK citizens, historically finding transport to get them to Kendal was hard enough, now to get them to Preston is ridiculous.

"It's just made the barrier ten times bigger for business. The national insurance interview is an important function of ensuring the right to work, but we should be making it easier on businesses not harder."

The Conservative councillor on South Lakeland District Council is now asking business leaders, SLDC and Cumbria's MP's to lobby the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a compromise.

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