Robert Lancaster-Gaye, founder of Tradelinens, luxury and ethically sourced linen supplier and consultants to the hospitality industry, calls on the Government to recognise the special needs of the hospitality industry and appoint a dedicated department and Minister for Hospitality.
And the professional textile care industry is right behind him as hospitality laundries struggle in the pandemic. Pre-Christmas, the Textile Services Association announced it is supporting a petition that has been set up to create a Minister for Hospitality in the UK Government. It only requires 100,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament. At midday on 5 January the total of signatures had reached 185,261 signatures. Sign up at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552201
Lancaster-Gaye set out just why he believes a dedicated Government department is needed, saying: “The hospitality industry - which provided work to more than 3.2 million people before the pandemic struck - has been hit harder than any other sector by it.
“But while the latest ONS figures show 78% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industry have been hit - there’s no minister to speak for them.
“That’s despite lockdown after lockdown forcing businesses to close, reopen, close and reopen; the cost of new safety measures; limits to customer numbers when open; curfews imposed and even being the target of one of the highest profile campaigns of the summer - Eat Out to Help Out.
“It is no secret the hospitality industry is a major contributing driver to the British economy (£130 billion in economic activity, £39 billion in tax revenue, the third largest private sector employer, 10% of UK employment), and it is overdue a real voice in parliament - someone who can adequately represent it and with a solid understanding of the complexity of the industry.
“Our hotels and our restaurants need a dedicated Minister, now. Which is why we’re campaigning for change - backed by industry leaders from the hotels, pubs and restaurant sectors as well as high profile figures including Robin Hutson, founder of The Pig hotels.
“From the people who are making the beds at some of the world’s leading hotels in the UK to those serving you coffee (when restrictions are lifted), these people need to be not only heard, but protected.
“The enjoyment you get from such simple pleasures as being able to travel to places for family holidays or the benefits to the economy of people taking business trips to London do not happen by accident.
“And that’s before the fun and memories created by birthday dinners out, meeting friends for after work drinks - all of it made possible by the nation’s hospitality workers and businesses. So why has it taken so long to ensure these people are represented?
“With so many people losing income, jobs and even employers outright, when the industry is able to fully reopen it needs to do so with a stronger and more expert voice among the people making the rules it’s worked so hard to abide by.
The current representation of the hospitality industry in Parliament is split between two already jam-packed Government departments – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy and the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport. It’s not hard to see why there is such an urgent need to get a dedicated Minister.
So, when ministers debate this on the 11 January, let’s hope that they do the right thing and let the hospitality workers be championed in parliament and finally have that #SeatAtTheTable.”