Recruitment crisis: why accommodation has become the key to finding hospitality staff

  • Video report by Fiona Marley Paterson

Businesses in the Lake District facing a recruitment crisis are finding they have to provide live-in accommodation in order to attract staff.

Over the last few weeks we've heard how a lack of hospitality workers is affecting businesses in the Lake District - and it's an issue in other parts of the region too.

And with the number of people looking for hospitality jobs so low at the moment, companies are having to offer other incentive such as transport and perks.

The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House Credit: ITV Border

Josip Malovic, who works as a Waiter at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House near Windermere told ITV Border, "Obviously everybody's looking at the salary, working time, this staff accommodation. If you are far from home it's a huge advantage and that's basically why you will decide if to take a job or not. If there is no staff accommodation I don't think I would ever come here."

Barney Cunliffe, Chief Executive of Gilpin says that he has had to buy a local guest house to transform into staff living facilities.

The Gilpin Hotel has bought this guest house to help house its staff Credit: ITV Border

He said, "There is no accommodation is the bottom line of it. And at one stage I had about ten applicants who had accepted the job but couldn't join us if they didn't have somewhere to live and I literally had to turn round to our bank and say, 'guys I've got to buy some accommodation'. This is post Covid, they're all a bit cautious, they said, 'well, you know we don't want to lend you anymore money' and two/three weeks later I rang them up and said, 'look, if you don't I'm not going to be able to recruit these people, in which case I'm going to have to start closing restaurants or close bedrooms. Which would you prefer?'

"They agreed it was a good policy and there, we went and bought another B&B. Former B&Bs work really well because they've all got en-suite bathrooms and lots of public areas so some of them we've converted into pool rooms, some of them into table tennis rooms, we've put an Xbox in one. So they really become a family unit so as well as the recruitment we actually get a lot of better retention."

Staff at the Gilpin have gym memberships, access to £1 meals and only have to pay £200 a month rent. The hotel is also paying to transport them to work.

But even with all of these perks, local businesses say they are still struggling to find staff.