Hospitality industry facing unemployment crisis

East Lothian could face a hospitality unemployment crisis if SNP ministers do not step up the fight for jobs following the re-opening of restaurants and cafes.

Scottish Labour has warned that if the furlough scheme ends before a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme is in place, thousands of workers in restaurants, bars and cafes could be laid off. And the furlough scheme must be extended in the hospitality sector too.

Around 3,500 people in East Lothian are directly employed in the hospitality sector, so this issue is vitally important for thousands of local households.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Across East Lothian, many chefs, waiting and kitchen staff are now back at work for the first time since lockdown began, while many local people have been enjoying their first meal out since March.

“But necessary social distancing measures mean businesses are unable to trade at normal levels. The effects of this are already being seen, with some workers having been laid off regardless of government support.

“The UK Government has responded to pressure and offered restaurants support – but only in the short-term. Otherwise a hospitality unemployment crisis could cause serious damage – not just for the workers laid off, but for everyone in East Lothian.

“With around 3,500 people employed in the sector here, our local economy depends on hospitality jobs, and East Lothian’s hospitality sector needs jobs for good. Extending the furlough scheme in this sector could provide a lifeline to thousands of workers.

“The Scottish Government must step up the fight to save these jobs. Businesses need greater support to make the adaptations they need to accommodate greater social distancing, allowing them to keep more staff on their books.

 “A quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme could stimulate demand as well, so that when the furlough scheme ends in other sectors workers can still afford to visit restaurants and bars.”