Petitions Committee chair urges Prime Minister to engage with the hospitality sector

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Petitions Committee Chair urges Prime Minister to engage with the hospitality sector on creation of Minister for Hospitality

Related tags: Minister for Hospitality, Government

Chair of the Petitions Committee Catherine McKinnell MP, who led last week's Minister for Hospitality debate, has written a letter urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to engage with the sector.

In the letter, McKinnell highlights that hospitality is one of the few industries that exists in all parts of the country, and notes that the sector will play a crucial role in the recovery from the Covid-19 recession, particularly in providing jobs for young people.

It comes after the Prime Minister shrugged off an invitation​ from McKinnell last week to meet those from the industry who are campaigning for the creation of a Hospitality Minister.

Although the letter recognises that there is gratitude for the support the Government has already given through measures such as the Job Retention Scheme, it highlights the lack of a long-term strategy for the hospitality industry and urges the Government develop a more coordinated approach to the hospitality industry.

“Although the Government has provided a range of support to the hospitality industry throughout this pandemic, it is clear that there are still many great challenges that lie ahead as the country begins to recover," says McKinnell

"A coordinated approach on this issue is vital.

“The hospitality industry has been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic, and although great efforts have been made to adapt quickly, thousands of businesses have been left struggling and unclear about what lies ahead in the coming months.

“It is crucial that there is a strong voice within Government to represent the diverse interests of those who own businesses and work within the hospitality sector to prevent further closures and losses of jobs.

“The Prime Minister is the only person in Government with the authority to create this position, and I urge him and his Ministerial colleagues to make time to meet with the petitioners to listen to their concerns.”

Last week's Minister for Hospitality debate saw MPs from both sides of the aisle find common ground over the financial hardships currently facing the sector​ as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

Opening the debate, McKinnell called on the Government to recognise that the sector needs a strong voice in Government that recognises the diversity within the industry.

At the moment responsibility for hospitality matters are shared between two different ministerial portfolios (Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Digital, Culture, Media & Sport), and while McKinnell said she understood the practise, she also believes it to be out of fashion at the moment given the crisis facing the sector and fears it creates an incentive in Government for passing the buck between departments.

She 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.”

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