UKHospitality has commented on the latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics, highlighting the role of hospitality in driving employment and calling on the government for targeted support.

Released yesterday (13 September), the figures show that unemployment is at 3.6%, its lowest rate since 1974. The number of job vacancies between June and August was 470,000 – 59.1% above pre-pandemic levels in January to March 2020 – with the largest increases in accommodation and foodservice.

Commenting on the figures, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, renewed calls for an energy price cap, a cut in VAT, and a business rates holiday to help the industry protect jobs.

She said: “These figures highlight what an important sector hospitality is as a UK employer, showing one in six new jobs in the year were generated by the industry. This equates to an increase of 133,000 new roles, driving total employment in hospitality up 6% to nearly 2.5m.

“Vacancies in the sector remain high however, close to double pre-pandemic levels. At the same time vacancies across the economy are 20% higher than a year ago, demonstrating how inherent problems in the labour market remain and how difficult a situation employers in the sector find themselves.

“In order to ease this workforce shortage, we need to work with the Government on long term solutions such as an employment and skills strategy and to ensure that Government schemes are open to all sectors – hospitality is currently excluded from initiatives such as skills bootcamps, for example. All this will be for naught, however, if the sector doesn’t receive some short term support.

“On top of the energy price cap we need targeted support, such as VAT cut to 10% and a business rates holiday, to sustain businesses big and small and protect jobs this winter.”