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‘Critical’ staff shortages costs hospitality £21bn in trade

Published:  23 June, 2022

Staff shortages in the hospitality industry are reaching critical levels and causing nearly half (45%) of operators to cut trading hours or capacity in order to cope, a new survey has said.

A joint survey by UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer and Pub Association has demonstrated how a shortage of workers is damaging hospitality businesses and the UK’s recovery.

It estimates that the shortages have cost the industry £21bn so far in lost revenue and an estimated £5bn loss in tax to the Exchequer.

The survey also shows that staff shortages are forcing one in three businesses in the sector to close one or more days a week. This tallies with recent ONS figures, which show the sector currently has a record 174,000 jobs available and is experiencing 83% more vacancies compared to March-May 2019 (the most recent comparable period).

The joint survey reveals that the highest shortages are for front-of-house roles, with 81% of operators with vacancies looking to fill these roles. Chefs are the next most sought after, with 76% of operators with vacancies looking to recruit these positions, followed by kitchen porters (67%) and assistant managers (53%).

“These figures clearly show the danger to the industry and financial loss to the country via taxes posed by the current staffing crisis,” UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping, and the British Beer and Pub Association said in a joint statement.

“In short, the recovery of the sector and the UK economy is threatened by this workforce shortage. Operators have been doing all they can to help solve the issue, from increasing wages to flexible working. However, this can only help so much, and the sector must be given targeted support to solve the crisis.”

The statement went on to speak about the dual role of recruitment in hospitality in providing both quality customer service for consumers and fulfilling careers for jobseekers – both of which “drive economic growth” across the UK.

Last month, UKHospitality launched its nationwide hospitality workforce strategy to nurture cooperation between industry stakeholders and boost recruitment and training for new skilled hospitality staff.