The situation has been compounded by new post-Brexit rules making it much harder for EU citizens to apply for jobs in low-paid roles in sectors such as hospitality, where they previously worked.
Chef and restaurateur Skye Gyngell warned that the hospitality industry was now facing a “catastrophic” recruitment situation.
She told the BBC’s Kirsty Walk during Tuesday’s Newsnight: “The industry is in a catastrophic situation, I mean in terms of recruitment and I think that is a mixture of the pandemic and Brexit.
“You know it was the sort of perfect storm.
“But I think if you speak to anyone in the industry at the moment everybody is struggling.”
“A reasonably liberal immigration system controlled by those we have elected, as distinct from the EU system, would be a plus for the economy and the country.
“America, Australia and Singapore have benefitted for many decades from this approach.
“Immigration combined with democracy works.”