Hospitality Debate Shows Overwhelming Support For Sector In Parliament

Cross-party support for hospitality highlights importance of the sector and overwhelming backing for further measures

members of Parliament have supported a motion to appoint a dedicated Minister of hospitality following a motion earlier this week in the House of Commons.

Over 200,000 people signed a petition for a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North who opened the debate, called on the Government to “recognise that the sector needs a strong voice in government with a genuine recognition of its diversity” said that such a voice “would be in the government’s interest to put in place”.

John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley, reiterated Ms McKinnell’s words that hospitality “falls between different departments, it represents hundreds of thousands of establishments, and it falls between the bureaucratic cracks”. He said the sector “needs someone to be their champion in Whitehall… they need someone to understand the whole economic ecosystem and join up the dots” and added that a hospitality minister would have understood the “chaos and waste” that have resulted from last-minute closures over the past year.

UKHospitality welcomed the debate in Parliament which, the trade body says, highlights the overwhelming support for the sector and the need for additional supportive measures.

The debate on support for the hospitality industry was made possible when a petition, calling for the creation of a Minister for Hospitality, gained the 100,000 signatures necessary to trigger a debate – before doubling that number.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “There was a clear and highly encouraging demonstration of strong cross-part support for an extension of the VAT cut and the business rates holiday. These are going to be crucial if we hope to see businesses survive the year. Announcing an extension of both of these policies, at the earliest possible opportunity, will provide some much-needed stability for our sector and allow businesses to begin planning. Equally clear is that a great many MPs recognise that this additional support will be necessary if the sector is to survive and lead the national revival.

“It was incredibly positive to hear so many MPs being vocal advocates of the hospitality sector. There was unanimous recognition of our importance economically and socially. It was particularly pleasing to hear parts of the sector like nightclubs, wedding venues and conference centres being lauded – businesses that have not grabbed headlines in the way that other sectors have, but are no less important, as the debate recognised. There was also welcome recognition for our critical supply chain.

“It is striking that, in the end, the petition got more than 200,000 signatures. We all understand the importance of what we do and it is good to see the Government recognise the importance of working closely with the sector to ensure that we are properly supported, not just during this crisis but more generally.”

to Neil Pattison, Director at Caterer.com, the UK hospitality industry job board:

“Parliamentary debate around creating a Minister for Hospitality is long overdue and very welcome. The sector now needs these positive conversations to result in action. The UK’s latest national lockdown has dealt yet another blow to the hospitality industry, one of the biggest employers in the UK and a significant contributor to the health of the economy. The prolonged business closures are causing significant damage to the strength and confidence of hospitality businesses and also to the millions of talented staff employed by them. Since March last year, Caterer.com has received more than three million applications to jobs on the site and in November alone over 17,000 new CVs were added to the database. Our data shows clear indication of the rising level of uncertainty and unemployment in the sector, but also of the desire for hospitality employees to remain working within it. There is also a strong desire among the public for hospitality services to reopen as soon as possible, and we’re confident that with the right levels of support from government, the sector will return with strength. The appointment of a Minister for Hospitality is crucial to this success.”