By Tom Tanner
This week’s debate in Parliament about the appointment of a Minister for Hospitality should have left the industry and the millions working in it, in no doubt that there is overwhelming cross party understanding of the plight of the industry and a need to extend support until restaurants and pubs can re-open without restrictions.
Additionally, and, if we’re honest perhaps a little surprisingly, forward thinking and progressive restaurateurs and publicans who stuck out the debate until the end should have finished the day encouraged that the government echoed the position of the SRA, seeing hospitality as central to a green recovery.
After a string of MPs from all parties and across the UK underlined the importance of pubs and restaurants to the working population and wider community of their constituencies and argued the case for extending and widening financial support, Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Minister for London, answered the petition on the behalf of the government. He acknowledged that hospitality was one of the hardest hit sectors in the UK. He added that along with colleagues in the Department for Culture Media and Sport, he and his team would continue to support operators until the vaccine is fully rolled out and restrictions lifted.
However, it was Mr Scully’s reference to sustainability that delighted us the most. The fact that he and the government are thinking not just about helping hospitality make it through to the other side of this pandemic, but also to how it can play a central part in a positive economic revival, aligns exactly with the SRA’s position and builds the case for progressive action across the sector.
He said that the creativity of hospitality operators would be central in helping the UK meet its world leading Net Zero targets. The sector, he said, should put its innovation to good use in tackling change, using new technologies to minimise emissions and waste. That, he added, would be essential as the UK builds back stronger and greener. We say Food Made Good members are leading the way.
We have whole heartedly supported the calls for a #SeatAtTheTable in the form of a dedicated Minister for Hospitality to represent this economic powerhouse that employs millions and provides the Exchequer with billions, in large part to ensure that come the end of the pandemic there are hospitality businesses still able to welcome customers
in through their doors. We’ve also argued strongly that a Minister for Hospitality could capitalise on the sector’s far-reaching influence and link together colleagues across Government, connecting departments as diverse as the Treasury, BEIS, DEFRA, DCMS, Department for Health and DfE. Through joined-up thinking, the UK then could demonstrate leadership and create policy that prioritises both regenerating the sector and the land, while also prioritising British jobs from front of house all the way to the field.
A seat at the table of government is a must for hospitality. Equally important is ensuring the that we don’t miss the opportunity for the minister to be a cross-department, super-connector capable of building a better future, in every sense, for the thousands of hospitality businesses, the millions they employ, the 8 billion meals they serve and the multitude of diverse spheres of life to which hospitality is inextricably linked.
Yesterday was a step in the right direction. Join us in writing to your MP to continue to make the case, you can adapt this template letter.