The owner of Italian restaurant Assaggi in London’s Notting Hill has claimed that Brexit is to blame for staff shortages resulting in the closure of his restaurant one day a week.
Assaggi started serving food seven days a week at the beginning of 2017 but has now been forced to close on Mondays due to the staffing crisis.
A note placed in the restaurant window read: “Assaggi Bar & Pizzeria is open Tuesday to Sunday. We hope to return to seven days a week when the staff shortages we are currently experiencing due to Brexit allows us to.”
Owner Nino Sassu said he was worried about the uncertainty of Brexit regarding staffing not just at Assaggi, where 90% of staff are Italian, but in the whole industry.
He said to the Evening Standard: “Many European people are literally not coming any more, and the people who are here are leaving. Almost every shop and restaurant I see has ‘staff wanted’ in the window. The problem has become acute.”
Following the Brexit vote, Sassu said that three members of his staff have left the business or are planning to leave.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) highlighted the severity of the situation that the UK food and drink supply chain faces without reassurances regarding the future of EU workers in a report released last month.
Over a third of businesses revealed they would become unviable if they had no access to EU workers, with 17% looking to relocate overseas.
Earlier this month plans to cut the number of low-skilled immigrants from Europe after Brexit outlined in a Home Office paper were leaked.
The 82-page document details plans for only workers in “high-skilled occupations” to be granted permits to stay in the UK for a period of three to five years. It states: “We are clear that, wherever possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour. It is now more important than ever that we have the right skills domestically to build a strong and competitive economy.”
British Hospitality Association (BHA) called leaked proposals potentially “catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry”.
BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: ““The government need to be urgently reminded that so-called unskilled workers in hospitality – the ambassadors for our country – are necessary. It is not just the bankers and the lawyers that are needed to fill the employment gaps. Our research, from KPMG, shows that at least 60,000 new EU service workers are needed per year just to fill the vacancies in hospitality. The research showed that 75% of waiters, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeepers are EU nationals.
“And in London and the south-east, especially, some business rely totally on EU service workers. The UK has near full-employment so where are the recruits going to come from for the UK’s fourth largest industry that employs over 4.5 people nationwide?”
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