The petition to see a Minister of Hospitality role created in government has drummed up support from more than 200,000 people as the case prepares to be debated in parliament today.
The Seat At The Table campaign is calling for a Hospitality Minister to be appointed to champion of the industry in parliament, promoting the importance of the economic, social and employment contribution of the sector to society.
The petition, which was started in October last year, this weekend smashed through 200,000 signatures and is to be debated today in parliament at 4.30pm.
Latest industry figures suggest more than 600,000 jobs have been lost in hospitality through the crisis, since it began in March 2020. Before the pandemic, over three million people worked in hospitality, which pays more than £40bn in tax each year.
The Seat At The Table campaign was launched by hotelier Robin Hutson in December to drive momentum to the cause.
The campaign is being spearheaded by a number of high-profile industry figures including Hutson, TV chefs Tom Kerridge and Angela Hartnett, and backed by trade association UKHospitality.
Robin Hutson, chairman & CEO of Lime Wood Group and founder of the Seat At The Table campaign, said: “I’ve long held the view that the hospitality sector requires really focused representation in government. This is about the future of our industry and the campaign and petition showcases the strength of feeling across the country on this issue. Hospitality is a sector that deserves a seat at the top table.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, which is backing the campaign, added: “When the country emerges from the pandemic, hospitality businesses will be pivotal in restoring a sense of normality, by providing experiences for a nation that has sacrificed much during the pandemic. If adequately supported, hospitality can play a vital and significant role in driving economic recovery across the UK, as it did following the 2008 financial crisis. A Hospitality Minister will ensure the needs of our sector are heard loud and clear in Government.”
Campaign champion Angela Hartnett, who has appeared on a wide variety of cooking shows, from Hell’s Kitchen to MasterChef UK, 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.”