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BHA warns employment growth ‘in jeopardy’

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BHA warns employment growth ‘in jeopardy’

Despite welcoming positive employment figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned this growth is “in jeopardy”.

Unemployment in the UK fell by 57,000 in the three months to June, bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.4%, the lowest figure since 1975. At 75.1%, the proportion of people in work is the highest it has been since 1971, partly due to the introduction of a later state pension age for women.

There were 32.07 million people in work during the three months to June 2017; 338,000 more than the same period last year.

However, the BHA has said this growth is facing a “perfect storm”, putting “severe pressure” on hospitality businesses.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: “Today’s ONS figures show that the hospitality industry continues to grow and provide the jobs British workers need. Accommodation and food services has provided a new 72,000 jobs in the last year, adding to the 4.6 million already working in the industry. Since 2010, the industry has provided one in five new jobs contributing to the lowest level of employment in the UK since 1971.

“However, this growth is in jeopardy due to a ‘perfect storm’ approaching the industry. The steep increase in business rates, the cost of introducing the National Living Wage and the UK’s high rate of tourism VAT are putting severe pressure on hospitality business, the majority of which are SMEs.

“The figures also show that despite the impressive number of jobs created by the industry, hospitality has the highest proportion of open vacancies. To overcome the decreasing labour market the BHA is calling on the government to help the industry reduce its reliance on EU workers and encourage UK workers to join the hospitality industry. The BHA submitted a 10-year strategy to the government to increase the industry’s hiring of UK workers focusing on three main sections of the populations – the unemployed, returners to the labour market such as older people, and the next generation.”

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