The “no-deal” nightmare: UK hospitality industry misery amid Brexit uncertainty

by | Feb 25, 2019 | News

Key hospitality industry bodies in the UK raise the red flag over staffing shortages if a no-deal Brexit comes to pass.

The UK hospitality industry is coming to terms with the stark reality of what a no-deal Brexit might mean for it, with the biggest challenges being resourcing and staffing.

A new survey found that 28% of hotel managers cited staffing as their biggest hurdle, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also an obstacle in recruiting new staff.

We find out more.

Finding and keeping staff a huge challenge

Although 2018 was a gold star year for the UK hospitality market, some figures show the situation in a slightly less flattering light.

Business might be booming, but behind the scenes, hotel operators and managers are finding it difficult to recruit and retain staff.

It has been reported that 90% of advertised positions go unfilled, and 28% of hotel managers say that resourcing is their biggest challenge.

A survey of 200 UK hotel managers by tax service EY found that 54% of those surveyed had seen a decrease in foreigners applying for hotel jobs since the Brexit referendum.

Those surveyed also complained of an increase in staffing costs, which they were unable to then pass on to the consumer.

, head of hospitality and leisure for EY, says, “This isn’t, however, to say Brexit is solely to blame for rises in staffing costs. The introduction of the national living wage and apprenticeship levy continue to have an impact and, with room rate growth at regional UK hotels in particular slowing down, hotels’ ability to pass on these costs to customers is becoming difficult.”


Going slow in anticipation of no-deal

As well as hotel operations being under resourced in general, another area that is being hard hit by the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit is F&B.

Growing frustration within the F&B sector has become clear with a new letter from industry leaders to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, where they expressed their anger at the crisis that the Brexit fallout has provoked.

Over 30 business signed the letter, part of which read, “Neither we nor our members have the physical resources nor organisational bandwidth to engage with and properly respond to non-Brexit related policy consultations or initiatives at this time. Government has recruited many extra staff; we cannot,” pointing to resourcing being a key pinch point for the F&B sector.

Although government departments in the UK have tried to assuage fears about a no-deal Brexit, saying that avoiding this is their “top priority”, businesses, supermarkets and food retailers have pressed pause on many of their operations until more is known about the outcome, which seems more uncertain by the day.

The letter continued with, “Businesses throughout the UK food chain – and their trade associations – are now totally focused on working to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit. Large amounts of time, money, people and effort are being diverted to that end.”

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