Because we are so short of staff, our hotel must turn people away

Hospitality businesses, which survived the Covid lockdowns are now facing a crisis in cost of living, rising inflation, and staff shortages.

Because we are so short of staff, our hotel must turn people away

Hospitality businesses, which survived the Covid lockdowns are now facing a crisis in cost of living, rising inflation, and staff shortages.

Gary Curley manages the Sligachan Hotel in Skye.

His business would employ 45-50 people in 2019, but it has only 33 employees at the moment.

His wife and he have to fill in the majority of the staff shortages.

He says, "My wife is very hands-on, but this year we have worked in every department."

"My wife has been at breakfast, I've been in kitchen, she's done housekeeping, and I've been at the bar.

"Everyday we have to jump in to assist others and the days get longer."

He claims that the staffing situation is a long-term one and requires him to make compromises that he doesn't want to make.

"This business is known for being open seven day a week, serving good food and drinks, and offering friendly Scottish hospitality, but we are unable to do that right now.

There are weeks where we cannot open for five days. We close at 3:00 and 5:15 to allow staff time to regroup and prepare for dinner.

"There are times when we have to turn people away, and that is something we don't like to do."

Curley stated that this was the most difficult year in his career and blamed Brexit.

"In 2019, a third our staff was from the European Union. We are not receiving any applications from them now.

If the government doesn't take this issue seriously, you'll see a very apocalyptic future in hospitality.

Kelly Fairweather owns three businesses and is having trouble keeping them going.

She is the owner of The Selkie cafe in Dundee, a bakery and a housekeeping company called At Your Service.

After Brexit, her staff numbers in the cleaning industry dropped from 11 to three.

She stated, "We now have clients who use us weekly, but now we can only visit them once a months."

"We also have a bakery that has been closed for three month because we don't have staff. We have 18 vacancies across the three businesses.

"It's almost like being in a boxing ring, taking punches all the time."

Last month, she saw her monthly electricity bill for her cafe of 28 people rise to PS3,000.

Ms Fairweather stated that there are no limits on who can provide our energy or in hospitality. If you don't have three years of trading you won't be able to get a contract. These guys can set their prices however they like.

"This month, I received eight texts from my provider stating that my daily rate was increasing and that my unit price is rising."

Dean Banks, the owner of Haar restaurant in St Andrews said that between 30% and 35% of his employees were EU citizens in 2019. This number has dropped to 10%.

He said, "We had to go through an approval process with lawyers to be able hire staff from the USA, Australia, and Canada."

"It was very expensive for the business to do this."

To keep the business afloat, he had to step down from his role as chef.

"I have had to get out of the kitchen more often and help with the business. This includes running the restaurant on some nights, the bar area, and kitchen porter work.

"I must work harder. Because I want my business and my staff to succeed, I'm here more. I work between 100-110 hours per week.

According to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce's latest quarterly survey, hiring staff is a problem. Recruitment difficulties have increased by 10% over the past quarter.

New data from Altus Group shows that businesses are in decline, with 200 pubs closing in England and Wales in the first half 2022.

Paul Waterson, Scottish Licenced Trade Association stated: "Pre-Brexit, we were in a great position. But then we lost many staff. That is the main problem.

"This means that the recovery from the pandemic has been halted and the trade development has been halted. One in three businesses is trading at different hours, some are closing down art of week. It is very difficult."

UK Hospitality's Liam Thomson stated that there are currently 40,000 hospitality jobs in Scotland.

BBC Scotland was informed by him that members are reducing occupancy levels to 75% or even 80% because they don’t have enough staff to care for guests. For the same reason, some are not allowed to serve meals or drinks to residents.

"Our members are seeing cost increases across the board - food and fuel energy prices, inflation.

Many businesses try to lower prices to stay competitive. It's difficult to find the right balance. Two thirds of the businesses we surveyed aren't actually making any profits.

"Businesses are now considering how they can operate beyond summer, and we are looking into a situation in which we might lose them."

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce called for tax cuts to protect firms from the worst of the damage.

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