Bristol hoteliers are urging the Government to relax some of the post-Brexit rules which have hindered their ability to recruit in recent years.
A combination of the impact of Brexit, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, caused huge problems for the hospitality sector, which has traditionally drawn heavily upon European workers to help staff hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Before Brexit, it’s estimated that the UK hospitality sector employed more than 400,000 EU workers.
Today, EU employees make up 28 percent of the UK’s hospitality workforce, compared to 42 percent pre-pandemic.
Many workers went home to be with their families when the Covid-19 crisis came, forcing
businesses into lockdown.
Then, because of changes in employment law brought in by Brexit, most were unable to return, leaving huge workforce gaps, in hospitality and other sectors.
Many hospitality businesses which had managed to keep doing despite being forced to close because of the pandemic found they were struggling to find the staff they needed when they were able to re-open.
And little has dramatically changed since to significantly ease the staffing shortage.
With Chancellor Jeremy Hunt due to deliver his budget on 15 March and hoteliers are urging him to give them the power to boost the recovery of their businesses by being able to recruit the staff they need.
Raphael Herzog, Chair of Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), said: “The past few years have been extremely challenging for the hospitality sector and there are still some huge difficulties to overcome.
“Brexit, the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis, particularly in terms of energy prices, have created the perfect storm.
“One of the biggest issue for us remains recruitment in some key areas of our businesses, such as chefs, food and beverage staff, room attendants and so on, which is why we think it is time for the Government to look at relaxing some of the Brexit rules.
“This will help not only hotels and other hospitality providers, but many other sectors which have also been struggling with staff shortages, to help get Britain’s businesses back on their feet.
“News reports are full of stories of staff shortages, from bus and coach drivers to care providers, which is leading to hospital beds being blocked because people are not able to go home because there is not the community care services available to them, largely because of staff shortages.
“The country is on its knees because of a shortage of staff in so many sectors, which is why we are urging the Government to open up the EU borders more and give many British businesses the helping hand many of them so badly need.”
To find out more about the BHA and everything it does to support the hospitality sector in Bristol, visit our website.