Harrogate staffing crisis may slow town's recovery from lockdown

Harrogate’s economic recovery from months of Covid lockdown restrictions is under threat from the UK’s worst labour shortage since 1997.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 9:44 am
Recruitment at all levels is proving a real challenge in Harrogate because of the knock-on effects of Covid and Brexit..

Despite the increasingly positive picture overall, the encouraging rise in leisure spending is at risk of being hampered by recruitment difficulties at all skill levels thanks to the joint impacts of both Covid and Brexit and the need for staff to self isolate through the track and trace scheme.

As bars and restaurants, in particular, complain of problems finding staff to cover shifts in the crucial hospitality sector, Harrogate Borough Council says it understands the situation but is confident it will prove a short-term blip.

Trevor Watson, Harrogate Borough Council’s director for economy, environment and housing, said: “A number of sectors including transport, hospitality and construction are struggling to fill job opportunities.

“Longer-term, through our economic recovery plan, we have a number of aims and objectives to support jobs and business growth across the Harrogate district.

"These include working with businesses to ensure that they can access the people and skills that they need to grow and succeed.”

Harrogate BID manager, Matthew Chapman, said: “Staff shortages, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, is an issue we are acutely aware of.”

David Simister, Chief Executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said: “Speaking with Chamber members, in particular those in the hospitality industry, recruitment at all levels is proving a real challenge.

The Harrogate Lib Dems' opposition leader, Pat Marsh said firms needed help from the Government because of the number of staff members self isolating as virus figures rise.

Coun Marsh said: "The impact on self-isolation is huge on everyone from children being sent home from school to businesses having Staff being sent home and people needing to be paid.

"With the service sector already trying to recover this is another added burden and many may never recover. We all dread the ping on the phone.

"We all must do what we can to protect one another but Government should step in to help businesses and those having to self-isolate to ensure they can afford to live/survive."