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SMEs demand emergency visas for staff shortages

One in four hospitality small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are calling for the government to introduce emergency visas to help cope with staff shortages.

One in five SMEs have agreed that immigration rules should be relaxed to help with staff shortages

A survey of 520 UK-based business owners, carried out by card payments specialist Takepayments, has revealed the responses of hospitality business owners to issues concerning staff shortages. It comes as pressures on the supply chain continue across the spirits industry.

More than half  (55%) of the SMEs surveyed revealed they have experienced staff shortages, with nearly one in two (46%) also having experienced supply chain issues. Exactly half of respondents said they have been financially impacted by the shortages, and 64% expect these statistics to get worse before they get better.

Sandra Rowley, head of marketing at Takepayments, said: “Until the supply and staff shortage issues are overcome, small business owners across the UK could continue to be hit by negative financial implications, which may ultimately lead to further increases in consumer prices.

“Small businesses within the hospitality sector have particularly been hit with staff shortages as Brexit laws came into position this year, affecting sectors that relied heavily on European workers.”

As a result of the staff shortages, a quarter of SMEs surveyed are asking for emergency visas to be introduced to ease the process of hiring from abroad, 42% are demanding tax breaks for smaller businesses, and 38% are calling for paid training programmes. One in five SMEs have also agreed that immigration rules should be relaxed too.

Rowley added: “Business owners within the sector are not only calling on the government to introduce a tax break to help them financially navigate through this climate, but calling for solutions such as emergency visas and relaxing of immigration rules in an attempt to return a workforce their business depends on and create a solution for the ongoing staff shortages within the sector.”

During the next three months, one-third of businesses surveyed revealed plans to increase pay for open vacancies, while just over one-third plan to increase pay for current staff to retain employee levels.

In terms of costs for the consumer, 41% of businesses have increased prices for customers, with 17% expecting to do so during the next three months.

Thirty-eight percent are concerned that if these issues continue into next year, their business may not survive.

Supply chain issues have also resulted in an increase in transport costs, yet some producers have seen a silver lining in the delays, claiming that the move towards sustainability has sped up as a result.

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