The UK hospitality industry is continuing to struggle with staff shortages and hiked prices because of Brexit, a pub owner has admitted.
Many are forced to close their doors despite having been struggling with several Covid lockdowns and restrictions over the past 18 months, BusinessLive has reported.
Geetie Singh-Watson MBE, owner of Devon organic inn The Bull, said the pub had to stop serving lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of a lack of staff.
‘Frustrating and depressing’
She told BusinessLive: “I have been running restaurants for the best part of 30 years and I have never before closed a service due to staff shortages,”
She said: “It is a national problem so there is not going to be a quick fix. It is incredibly depressing, I cannot tell you. We put so much into re-opening and to find that you cannot because you have not got a team in place, it is incredibly frustrating.”
Singh-Watson said that because of staff shortages she could not open an ethical fish and chip shop she bought, which she finds “depressing”.
She added that Brexit had a far bigger impact on staff shortages and hiking prices than Covid, and that prices for ingredients such as fish have doubled.
She said: “Half of my staff have come from somewhere else in the world most of the time and particularly in London, and that will be the same picture for other businesses too.
“Those people have now left the UK and we are now competing with each other for what is left.
“The narrative is that a lot of people have left hospitality to pursue other careers because of Covid but it is my experience that people in hospitality tend not to be in it for a career and are doing it before going onto something else anyway.
“I don’t think there’s a political will to address it because it will show that the problem is not Covid but Brexit.”
In May this year, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, told The London Economic many EU citizens left the UK permanently as a result of Brexit.
And she admitted the hospitality sector was already experiencing a recruitment crisis because of the ‘Brexodus’.
Almost a quarter of hospitality workers in the UK are foreign nationals, according to Ms Nicholls.
She said: “We have a large number of Eastern European, Polish, Spanish and Italian workers working in housekeeping, kitchens, restaurants and hotel managers.
“In terms of future requirements, the system the UK government has put into place is going to prevent EU citizens to fill jobs post-pandemic.”
Alexandra Bulat, Young Europeans Network Co-Chair and Migrants4Labour member, told TLE: “I hope that this is a moment of reflection for all of us on our attitudes towards fellow residents in this country.”
Related: UK hospitality sector struggles for workers after EU citizens ‘went back home’