Thursday, September 28

Clubs face gorilla shortage as UK staff shortage hits nightlife | Hospitality industry

Nightclubs are suffering from a growing gorilla shortage, in the latest downsizing to hit the UK’s economic recovery, and some estimates suggest venues have to pay security staff up to 25% more.

The lack of security personnel comes at a time when hotel companies are hit by a cocktail of rising costs and are trying to recover from months of closures during the pandemic.

About one in five night and hotel businesses had to close last month or operate reduced hours as a result of a shortage of security personnel, according to the trade body Night Time Industries Association.

However, the NTIA warned that the situation had “deteriorated even further”, at a time when consumer demand to go out at night and dance has exploded following the easing of government restrictions.

Sacha Lord, the Greater Manchester night economy advisor, said “security personnel were the biggest problem” at this year’s Parklife festival, which he co-founded.

Lord said it was a struggle to hire the 1,000 security personnel required to cover the 80,000 capacity event, which took place over two days in September at Heaton Park, Manchester.

“We’ve always taken it for granted that you can email three or four security vendors and get our security staff of 900-1,000,” Lord said. “But this year we had to beg, borrow and steal across the country.

“We had to take them by bus from the north of Scotland, Devon and everywhere. Usually it is very localized and they come from Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool ”.

Lord added that the 124 security staff working the Warehouse Project nightclub events, which run Friday and Saturday nights through January, are paid about 25% more than before, assuming invoices Higher wages charged by security providers are being passed on to workers. .

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Hospitality companies have sounded the alarm about staffing shortages in recent months since lockdown restrictions were relaxed, and security vacancies are the most recent problem, after insufficient numbers of bar staff, chefs and other kitchen workers.

Other parts of the economy have also been hit by understaffing, particularly the food production and processing industry and those managing supply chains, including warehouse workers and heavy vehicle drivers.

Many security workers left their jobs during the pandemic when nightclubs and night spots were closed, and many found work elsewhere with more suitable hours.

Like much of the hotel industry in general, the sector has also been affected by EU staff leaving the UK over the past 18 months as a result of Brexit or pandemic restrictions.

Security personnel at the sites are critical to protecting the public, said the NTIA, which called for government action. “If the shortage continues to worsen, there is a very real possibility that it will become a threat to public safety,” said its chief executive, Michael Kill.

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“As in other sectors currently experiencing shortages, this is a long-term problem and the decline in security resources can be traced back to at least three years.

“There are steps the government can take to alleviate the problem, whether it be funding training initiatives, simplifying new training requirements, or addressing shortages through legislation, and I would also like you to review the issue of temporary visas to mitigate the crisis. “

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The UK’s largest nightclub operator, Rekom UK, and the Revolution bar chain have also reported suffering from a gorilla shortage.

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which runs places like Pryzm in Birmingham and Cardiff and Atik in Aberdeen and Hull, said the problem had been “building slowly but has gotten much worse since the pandemic.”

The latest downsizing comes as hospitality venues are hit by high costs, including higher energy bills, which have already led to an estimated 10% increase in costs, according to Lord.

The NTIA estimates that nearly 90,000 jobs have been lost in the UK’s cultural nightlife economy since the pandemic began, in a sector valued at £ 36 billion, or 1.6% of GDP, in 2019.

Hospitality and tourism bosses have asked the government to permanently lower the VAT rate for their sector in the next budget to help safeguard thousands of jobs.

The tax rate for pubs, restaurants, holiday accommodation and admission to certain attractions was temporarily lowered to 5% in 2020, but was raised to 12.5% ​​in early October, and is expected to return to the 20% level sooner. of the pandemic next April. .

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