Easing of legal restrictions ‘does not mean easing of hospitality’s challenges’ as businesses cite staffing and supply chain worries:The easing of legal restrictions does not mean the easing of hospitality’s challenges, sector trade bodies have warned as new research showed the scale of the issues facing the industry. Chief among the major concerns are around staffing, the supply chain and tapering of government support. The survey of more than 350 businesses operating tens of thousands of venues by UKHospitality, The British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping showed all companies currently have vacancies; mainly front of house (84%), non-head chefs (67%) and kitchen porters (36%). A third are experiencing managerial role vacancies. Vacancy levels are running at 10% across the sector – implying a shortage of more than 200,000 workers. Almost all (94%) of hospitality businesses are experiencing difficulties with their supply chain – 66% have reduced product lines, 63% are seeing delays in deliveries, 60% are experiencing products not turning up and 56% are seeing major price inflation. A return to a VAT rate of 20% next year will have negative impacts on the vast majority of businesses: 43% said they would cut investment, 30% would become loss-making, 28% would cut jobs, 22% would implement a recruitment freeze and 21% would face business failure. Furthermore, the current “pingdemic”, as a result of the NHS covid app, means up to as much as a fifth of staff in the sector are isolating at any one time. This is forcing operators to reduce operating hours or close venues completely, threatening to derail recovery, the trade bodies said. In terms of priorities for government support, respondents ranked additional business rates relief into 2022-23 as the top measure, followed by a continued reduction in hospitality VAT beyond March 2022 and, thirdly, an overhaul of the business rates system. Other support measures needed that ranked highly were a reduction in the tax on beer and alcoholic drinks, as well as help to address labour shortages experienced by the sector. The trade bodies stated: “The easing of all legal restrictions should mark a progression into the recovery phase for our sector. But businesses are faced with a range of pressing challenges meaning the road to recovery will be bumpy for many months to come. The sector has already lost more than 12,000 venues during the course of the pandemic and more than half a million jobs – without further adequate support there will be more businesses and jobs lost.”

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