Minister for Hospitality to be Appointed in the UK….We Hope

Main Photo: The Houses of Parliament, where the British government voted in favour of a Minister of Hospitality…at last!

Date: January 2021

Location: UK

No. of Keys: Near-on 1 million!

Who Did What: Following a 90-minute debate at the House of Commons, all 20 MPs present have now backed the motion for a dedicated minister for hospitality to be appointed.

During the debate, Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets pressed his point that the hospitality sector already had representation at government, citing recent grants, the furlough scheme, business loan schemes and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme as examples.

However, others present called out for further support for the industry from Government, including Tunbridge Wells Conservative MP Greg Clark and Labour MPs Lucy Powell for Manchester Central, Charlotte Nichols for Warrington North, and Catherine McKinnel for Newcastle North.

The recent debate was opened by McKinnel, who urged the Government to identify that the hospitality sector requires a strong voice at Government level. Clark implored fellow ministers to support the industry, emphasising the need for governmental support for hospitality enterprises, currently battling a third UK lockdown.

The #SeatAtTheTable petition launched by Chef & Restaurant Magazine Editor Clare Bosi and supported by celebrity chefs such as James Martin and Tom Kerridge has argued the importance of the hospitality sector’s contribution to the UK economy. Unlike sports and arts, hospitality does not have its own minister, despite generating £130 billion that results in £38 billion worth of taxation and providing approximately three million jobs across the country.

In addition key hoteliers such as Robin Hutson (Pig Group), Harry Murray (Lucknam Park) and restaurateur James Horler (Ego Restaurants) are among those asking the government for proper representation in parliament.

Thanks to their collective efforts and many industry voices, including the newly decorated (OBE) Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UK Hospitality, the industry trade body, some 200,000 folks signed the petition to demand the debate in parliament.

Although all the MPs present voted unanimously on the proposal, and the debate was able to underline the unique challenges that restaurants, bars and public houses in the UK are currently facing, it will result in no immediate action.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UK’s hospitality industry has seen job losses in their thousands as many businesses have collapsed under the economic strain.

However, the overall cross-party support for the hospitality industry is a positive step in the government recognising the importance of the sector and the debate highlighted many hospitality enterprises that seldom make the headlines. These include conference centres, dedicated wedding venues and bars that are struggling just as much under the strain as others in the industry. Recognition was also given to businesses in the industry’s supply chain that have also been negatively impacted by the outbreak.

Before We Get Too Excited: according to a hotel colleague who has been following this….The PM needs to approve the role and there is a lot of complexity surrounding getting it in place which ultimately requires someone to change the law on the number of ministers allowed or devolve the role to an existing minster who heads up other areas too, but as hospitality spans two government departments so that makes it hard as well… The short version is there are so many barriers to making it work. A better tactic might be, is to get a Department of Hospitality created to span the two government bodies, but even that would need funding that government would not want to do. It’s a rock and a hard place scenario but hospitality will find a way, it’s the nature of the trade!

THPT Comment: At long last, many will say! It’s a scandal that Hospitality, the third largest employer, in the UK has, until now, traditionally been tucked into the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – which doesn’t even have the word Hospitality in the title!…and more recently the catch-all Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee…eh?

First Seen: James Webber Recruitment

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