Calls for support for the hospitality industry followed today’s announcement that the number of people out of work increased by 24,000 to 1.45 million between November 2017 and January 2018.
Today’s announcement was the second to show an increase in the number of unemployed people, following two years of steady decline.
Despite the small increase in overall rate of unemployment from 4.3% to 4.4%, the number of people in employment rose to a record high of 32.2 million.
But, hospitality specific figures revealed last month suggested that 54,000 less people were employed in the sector and UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said action is needed.
She explained: “Today’s figures do not make for reassuring reading for the government or our industry. Although the total number of unemployed remains relatively low, an increase in the rate of unemployment points to employer uncertainty and continually increasing barriers to investment.
“Last month’s figures show that the hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard. Businesses that have driven the revitalisation of high streets since the recession are now, once again, feeling the squeeze.
“We have repeatedly told the government that the sector is facing a substantial barrier to further growth, mainly in the enormously disproportionate business rates bill that continues to cripple businesses. This will only be exacerbated when the increase hits in April; in all likelihood, leading to further unemployment as businesses struggle to swallow these cost burdens.
“If the government does not act to support businesses by cutting costs, then we are only going to see a continued deceleration of growth in the sector and a further increase in the rate of unemployment.”
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