The food and accommodation sector was worst hit by the rise in unemployment in the three months to November, according to figures published today (Tuesday 26 January) from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of people unemployed in hospitality increased by more than 50,000 on the previous year – up 54,000 on the year to 171,000.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said she feared job losses “could get a lot of worse unless action is taken”.
Overall unemployment in the UK increased to 5% from 4.9% in this period as the pub sector battled additional trading restrictions and regional closures.
Trade body warnings
The ONS said some 1.7m people were out of work – the highest level in more than four years.
In the region of 650,000 hospitality jobs were lost in 2020, according to figures from sector software provider Fourth.
The figures come as pub sector bosses and trade bodies have been calling on the Government to announce further relief for pubs.
Support measures that should be extended include the furlough scheme, the reduced VAT rate and business rates holiday.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Rising unemployment and redundancies hitting a record high are extremely concerning. As one of the most devastated sectors by Covid-19, we fear it could get a lot worse unless action is taken.
“The Chancellor must act to get us over this final hurdle in the fight against the virus. A clear roadmap to reopening is needed to save jobs, along with an economic stimulus package so sectors like ours can bounce back and lead the recovery.”
Revitalise the economy
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the figures were an unneeded reminder that the sector had been “hit hardest” by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unless we want to see unemployment in our sector rise even further, we need more support to keep businesses alive and these jobs secure,” she added. “The VAT cut and business rates holiday must be extended to give employers some breathing room to keep jobs safe.”
Nicholls said a “route map to recovery” was needed as soon as possible and that hospitality could help revitalise the economy and employ young people.
“We can only do this with the right support to see us through the crisis, though,” she added.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This crisis has gone on far longer than any of us hoped – and every job lost as a result is a tragedy. While the NHS is working hard to protect people with the vaccine we’re throwing everything we’ve got at supporting businesses, individuals and families."
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