Trade body UKHospitality says its members are experiencing a job vacancy rate of 11 per cent. According to the ONS, there are 132,000 unfilled roles in the sector – 48 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.
Across the UK, restaurants and pubs are struggling to offer their usual service, especially where demand is patchy – but even towns are seeing once thriving businesses being wound up.
“We’re seeing a third of businesses closing early, closing on certain days or adjusting rotas and services to retain staff and protect their wellbeing,” says Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality.
“In rural and coastal areas, the problem is particularly acute. The very nature of being seasonal means it’s harder to prepare and staff up for the summer.”
The hardest hit areas, she says, are the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, South West England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Stuart Jackson has run The Lower Deck seafood restaurant in Portree on the Isle of Skye since 2007. He says he currently has six full-time staff instead of the usual 11 or 12 and relies on family and friends for part-time shifts.
“The effect on the business is to limit our opening hours. We were used to providing a service seven days a week and we are lucky to reach four or five.
“We often have to close at short notice. This causes problems for staff who rely on regular, consistent wages. As a seafood restaurant, the uncertainty has also caused substantial problems when ordering fresh produce.”
He says everyone he speaks to in hospitality is having the same problems and all feel the Government is ignoring the problem.
“Hospitality has been treated dreadfully in recent years, both during and post-pandemic. During Covid we were asked to implement the relevant regulations but there were those amongst the general public who took their frustrations out on restaurant staff. There has been a loss of staff who no longer wish to work in hospitality because of this.
“Brexit, with the removal of the free movement of EU citizens and their right to work, has [also] been a big factor.”