Covid rise deepens Lake District staffing crisis

Tourism businesses in the Lake District say the rise in Covid infections is making their recruitment crisis even worse.

More than 170,000 positions are thought to be unfilled in the UK. In May, for the first time ever, the number of vacancies across the UK was higher than the number of unemployed.

It means businesses like The Lancrigg Hotel in Grasmere are trying to offer the same service with fewer staff. It is proving difficult for the manager, Paul Criscuolo-Wray.

Paul Criscuolo-Wray manages The Lancrigg Hotel in Grasmere Credit: ITV Border

He said: "In terms of the amount of staff coming forward for jobs obviously we've lost the whole European market because of Brexit and Covid."

Before the pandemic, Mr Criscuolo-Wray had a surplus of staff at his disposal. That is now far from the case.

UKHospitality blames Brexit for reducing the number of foreign workers available, made worse by Covid.

A government spokesperson said: “Our nationwide job centres are helping local employers everywhere plug millions of unemployed people seize the vast job opportunities they have on offer right now, including in hospitality.

“We’re helping people retrain and gain new qualifications to work in new sectors, especially where we’re seeing high demand and working with UKHospitality and leading employers... to better promote jobs in the sector and fill vacancies faster.”

Other industries are also struggling to find staff. Suzanne Caldwell is Director of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce. She said: "Fundamentally we don't have enough people in the county to do the jobs that need doing.

"Businesses across every sector are already really short staffed and then when you add on top of that we've got the holiday season and then the upsurge in covid it's just a recipe for real challenges."