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Housing crisis is hitting hospitality sector hard in Galway

Four out of five businesses in Galway say the lack of accommodation is impacting on their ability to hire staff – and as many as nine out of ten are finding their hiring practices affected by the limited supply of housing.

This comes after one city publican revealed that the only solution he could find to the accommodation crisis was to buy two houses to offer rooms to prospective staff at an affordable rate.

The overall picture was painted in stark focus in a new survey conducted by Galway Chamber on the impact of housing on the local business community.

It also found that seven out of ten Galway businesses also say the low level of housing is impacting their ability to retain staff.

While more than half businesses in Galway (56%) say that accommodation issues are ‘regularly’ cited by potential hires when considering a role with their business, with an additional 1 in 8 businesses saying that issue is ‘always’ mentioned.

A total 72% of businesses in Galway say potential hires or existing staff have cited the inability to find accommodation since the turn of the year.

That tallies with the experience of one city publican who revealed that finding reasonably priced accommodation is proving to be the nail in the coffin for many job applicants.

Michael Gilmore, owner of the Cellar Bar on Eglinton Street, Seven on Bridge Street, Tigín in Woodquay and An File in Westport, had to turn down an offer to buy another major premises due to the difficulties in recruiting workers.

He has even considered bringing in staff from abroad to ensure all shifts are covered. But finding them housing is practically impossible in Galway and Westport. He is about to close a sale on two houses that he will use as cut-price accommodation for his workers.

“It’s crazy, just crazy. I’m hoping that by being able to offer housing, I will attract people from other parts of the country who want to come to Galway but can’t afford it,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“I get a lot of applications for the jobs, but then they turn the offers down because they can’t get a place to stay. Hospitality can’t afford to pay rates that will enable them to stay in Galway. It’s just crazy stuff.

“I’m going to offer them accommodation at a reasonable rate – half of what is normally asked for in Galway just so I can keep the businesses going.”

The Chamber survey found that three out of four businesses (77%) say existing staff or potential new hires have said rent locally is too expensive during the same period and a further 54% have been told by staff/ potential hires there are no properties for rent in their price range.

Two out of five businesses have been told that there are no properties for sale in their price range, while 36% say staff/ potential hires have cited the poor quality of available accommodation.

As a result of the accommodation shortage, seven out of ten Galway businesses say they have reduced their hiring targets for the next twelve months, while 55% say they are concerned about retaining staff over that same period.

Galway Chamber CEO Kenny Deery said that the housing crisis was having a real impact on business in Galway and the local business environment.

“The problems people are facing finding accommodation for themselves and their families are making it increasingly difficult for our local businesses to secure and retain staff,” he said.

“These aren’t isolated stories, this has become the norm and it is impacting businesses of all shapes and sizes – from start-ups to multinationals and from tech and pharma businesses to professional services and retail. Everyone is feeling the accommodation pinch.

“We must find solutions – both in the short term and the medium term because otherwise businesses and their staff will suffer.

“All options for addressing this issue need to be on the table. That means enabling sites of development potential to advance, improving the public transport network to better serve the commuter towns with sustainable transport as well as targeted measures that will deliver more immediate results by freeing up vacant rooms and buildings across Galway,” Mr Deery concluded.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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