A group of leading hospitality figures, led by TV chef Angela Hartnett, has come together to “champion millions of hospitality workers” and call for greater industry representation in Parliament.
Prominent industry figures, including Tom Kerridge and Jason Atherton, are also among more than 200,000 people who have now signed the ‘#SeatAtTheTable’ petition, which calls for PM Boris Johnson to appoint a Hospitality Minister.
The issue will be debated in Parliament today (11 January) at 4.30pm.
The campaign has been joined by chefs and restaurant owners across the UK, as well as trade organisation UKHospitality. It was launched by Robin Huston, founder of boutique hotel group the Pig, and industry magazine editor Claire Bosi.
It comes as participants argue that a top government minister can help the UK “bounce back strongly by harnessing the economic power of brilliant British pubs and restaurants when they reopen”.
The campaign argues that unlike other leading industries, such as manufacturing, retail and aviation, hospitality does not have a dedicated minister currently.
Latest industry figures suggest more than 600,000 jobs have been lost in hospitality through the crisis since March 2020. Before the pandemic, over three million people worked in hospitality, which pays more than £40bn in tax each year.
Campaign champion Angela Hartnett said: “Hospitality is the third biggest employer in the UK and deserves a seat at the top table. We need a hospitality hero in government to speak up for the local pubs, coffee shops and restaurants. Someone who understands our businesses and how we work.
“This is about helping us to help the country get back on its feet. We can’t wait to welcome people back to our bars and dining rooms but we need the government to protect our businesses and these jobs to ensure we are there when this is over.”
She added: “The pandemic has shown hospitality is a major economic and social force and we need proper representation in government to fight our corner. Industries like manufacturing, retail and aviation all have a dedicated minister and we need that seat at the table. It’s wrong that we don’t have our own minister given the size and scale of hospitality and how important it is in providing jobs and public funding for vital services.
“Now the vaccine is here, we want to help the country come roaring back and also to get our venues open, to do what we do best and look after people and give them a great time. And in doing so, this industry will generate millions in tax to repair the public coffers and pay for vital services like the NHS and social care. But we need help to do it.”