This comes as figures highlighted by the Office For National Statistics (ONS) yesterday (Tuesday 18 April) highlighted vacancies in the accommodation and food sector were 56.9% up compared with January to March 2020.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “If hospitality businesses were fully staffed, we could be contributing so much more to the Government goals of economic growth and driving down inflation.
“That should be incentive enough for the Government to heed our calls and take action.
“Combined, changes to the immigration system to help businesses better recruit and reform to the Apprenticeship Levy would put the sector in a position to succeed for years to come.”
Nicholls added vacancies were 48% higher than pre-pandemic levels, leaving many businesses with no choice but to reduce daily opening hours and a third forced to limit the number of days they are open per week.
She continued: “The results are stark. There is no doubt the sector will be going into the summer understaffed, with significant knock-on impacts for consumers.
“Whether it’s pubs and restaurants who are unable to find a chef, or wedding venues that are struggling to recruit much-needed seasonal workers, everyone is affected.”
Total vacancies across all industries were down by 188,000 vs last year’s levels, though they remained 304,000 above pre-pandemic levels (January to March 2020), according to ONS.
In addition, between December 2022 and February 2023, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was up from the previous quarter at 1.2.
ONS said the data reflected “uncertainty” across all industries as survey respondents “continue to cite economic pressures”.
Nicholls added: “The busy summer season should be a time of optimism [but] has become one of despair.
“Staff shortages have plagued the sector for years and the labour market now appears to have stagnated at the worst time for hospitality.”