Nightlife tsar warns security staff shortages are becoming ‘the biggest issue' for the sector

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Security staff shortages are hammering venues across the UK and becoming the biggest issue for the nightlife sector, Greater Manchester’s night tsar has said.

Sacha Lord has given the latest industry warning on the impact of staff shortages, with an increasing number of clubs calling for Government intervention as a lack of bouncers could become a “threat to public safety”.

The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) said last month that one in five night-life and hospitality businesses closed or reduced operating hours because they cannot source the staff.

Owners say the lack of pay, the unsociable working hours and zero hours contracts have put workers off the industry.

Added to working conditions, security staff have been required to obtain an SIA Licence since 1 October, a £190 qualification lasting three years.

GMB Union said the timescale to complete qualification has been hampered by the pandemic, with classroom time put on hold due to successive lockdowns and the cost of the licence holding some workers back.

Mr Lord, the co-founder of Parklife Festival and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester told i “many staff have simply left the industry” because the numbers do not add up.

“After months of lockdown, many staff have moved on to different sectors where they can be guaranteed work and earn more,” he said.

“At Parklife festival, which took place last month, we struggled to recruit the 1,000 security staff needed to secure the site this year, and it took many months of planning and hard work to organise.

“Pre-Covid, we took it for granted that we could hire local staff easily and efficiently, with one email to an agency.

“Normally, our staff are from Greater Manchester, but this year we noticed a significant difference, with staff coming in from across the country in order to fulfil our requirements.

“This isn’t something I’m seeing only in the festival sector, but across events and nightclubs nationwide.”

Philip Inzani runs the Polo Bar, one of London’s remaining 24 hour venues.

“Almost every hospitality venue is trying to recruit now, it’s a nightmare,” he told i.

“If we do not have door staff, then we must operate at a reduced capacity as safety of our staff and customers is imperative.  

“Long-term, venues such as ours cannot operate without door staff, if this continues or gets worse, we may not be able to open for 24 hours.

“We’re a haven for people who cannot get home in the early hours, something we have noticed more with the Night Tube not running.

“There needs to be a permanent structure put in place to re-attract people to the UK to work,” he added.

Philip Jordan, who runs Cheltenham’s biggest nightclub, Under The Prom, said companies need to go “above and beyond for their door team” to retain them.

“We pay for renewals on licences, cover their insurance costs, and ensure they are properly remunerated. They’re also incentivised to grow our team, receiving a kickback for hiring and retention.

“The proof is in the pudding – some door staff have been with us more than a decade,” he added.

He said door staff are not being given the pay they deserve.

“If this issue continues, door staff will just look elsewhere or retrain in other areas where pay is better.

“People need to be remunerated correctly. I’ve heard of some venues with two floors expecting one door person to be able to cover both. It’s not safe,” he added.

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