The hospitality industry is backing calls for a minister to be created for the sector. A petition created by food writer Claire Bosi, writer and ex-wife of chef Claude Bosi, is calling for the post to “be created for the current, and successive governments”.
Campaigners say the UK hospitality industry is “responsible for around three million jobs, generating £130 billion in activity, resulting in £38 billion in taxation”, however “unlike the arts or sports, we do not have a dedicated minister”.
They argue: “We believe such a minister would have been beneficial to government and industry during the pandemic.
“We need a minister who can listen to concerns on taxation and legislation and bring forward suggestions to the chancellor and policymakers on our behalf.”
Wendy Bartlett, co-founder of caterer Bartlett Mitchell, told Facilitate: “This pandemic has highlighted the need for representation in government for one of the UK’s most prominent sectors. Not only does hospitality employ a huge number of people, but it also makes a significant contribution to UK GDP.
“Throughout this pandemic, the sector has been made a scapegoat… Policies like the 10pm curfew are a classic example of where a decision is ill-thought through due to lack of knowledge, input and understanding of our industry.”
In August, Facilitate reported that more than 20 companies and individuals from the food service sector had joined forces to launch ‘Food Service Circle’ – a platform designed to offer support to those laid off or otherwise affected by the economic fallout swirling around the sector.
At the time about 20 per cent of the workforce was expected to be made redundant or were facing hugely reduced hours.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy, said: “We have taken decisive action to support the sector from the start of the outbreak, including through the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, VAT cuts, business rates relief and billions paid in grants, loans and tax deferrals. On top of this, our Winter Economy Plan will help the industry in the months ahead and businesses required to close due to local lockdowns can claim £3,000 a month.”
The spokesman said that the government would be keeping measures under review, adding that Paul Scully, the minister for small businesses, “regularly engages with the hospitality sector to understand their concerns and how best to support them”.