Hospitality Minister needed to guide industry through choppy waters

The Palace of Westminster, comprising the House of Lords and the House of Commons, is pictured from accross the River Thames in central London on March 14, 2017.
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to begin the countdown to Brexit after parliament gave her the green light -- and Scotland wrong-footed her by launching a fresh bid for independence. Downing Street has played down speculation that May could announce Tuesday that she is triggering the Article 50 process to leave the European Union, indicating that it would take place later in the month. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The trade body that represents restaurant chains such as Casual Dining Group, Carluccio’s and Wagamama this morning called for the hospitality sector to have its own dedicated Hospitality Minister.

With Brexit providing uncertainty for employers and costs for businesses rising, the time is right for the government to appoint a dedicated Minister to the support the sector, according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said “clear action” from the government was needed to stop economic uncertainty undermining businesses’ attempts to plan and invest.

She said: “The UK’s hospitality sector is the third largest employer and incorporates a vast range of businesses and sub-sectors, not least of all the countries’ resilient and innovative eating and drinking out businesses. These are the businesses that have driven growth in local economies in every part of the UK, creating one in six of all new jobs since the recession.

“These businesses are looking ahead with a sense of trepidation as we approach Brexit and costs continue to rise. Issues important to our members, and the wider sector, straddle a number of different Government departments encompassing: employment, planning, taxation, food & drink, tourism and more. There is need for a national role to span these issues and ensure that crucial businesses are properly catered for.

Nicholls urged the government to show leadership and support for hospitality firms by creating a new role of hospitality minister to ensure “transparent and useful engagement” with businesses and promotion of the sectors’ interests.

“This will help promote a consolidated approach from both businesses and government departments to help facilitate Brexit discussions and outcomes, and help inform the government’s Industrial Strategy,” she said.

The ALMR today holds its Autumn Conference in London where Nicholls is expected to repeat the plea.

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