THE UK Government has again been urged to take action to help tackle the recruitment and supply chain issues blighting Scotland’s hospitality industry.
Trade groups UK Hospitality and the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) wrote to secretary of state for Scotland Alister Jack MP last week to issue renewed calls for the introduction of temporary immigration reforms, saying the combined impact of the pandemic and Brexit has “plunged the sector further into crisis with no apparent way forward”.
Stating that the industry “remains in survival mode, rather than having moved to recovery”, the groups called for urgent action to help tackle the recruitment crisis.
Key asks of the UK Government include the introduction of a COVID Recovery Visa; the addition of hospitality workers to the Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation list and the expansion of the criteria to support recruitment in the transport and food and drink sectors; a review of the cost of workforce visas to the employer to make it more affordable for the hospitality sector to recruit from abroad; and “clarity around the government’s plans to support jobs and the economy beyond the end of furlough”.
The letter, which is signed by STA chief executive Marc Crothall and UK Hospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson, states that the recruitment crisis “risks Scotland’s and, indeed, the UK’s reputation as a forward-thinking, welcoming, globally-important destination for attracting visitors and inward investment”.
“The time to remove barriers to our ability to trade and our competitiveness as a tourism destination on a macro and micro level is now, with the creation of policies which will see our industry thrive in addition to the removal of existing and proposed policies which will see our businesses struggle to survive,” it says.
“Our businesses are severely impacted in relation to compromised opening and service delivery. They’re also dealing with increased costs, repayments on loans which were taken out during the peak of the crisis, VAT repayments, increased supplier costs, the costs of recruitment, administration, regulation, utilities and the added costs that Brexit has brought home to roost.
“Tourism is a force for good; it can stimulate economic wealth across our country and communities and bring the inward investment Scotland so needs and deserves. Our ability to invest in our businesses and tourism product however is so hugely compromised by the issues around the availability of workforce.”
The trade groups are due to meet with UK Government ministers on the matter next week.