Dedicated Hospitality Minister debate rolls on

In her article for the January/February 2021 edition of Pub & Bar, entitled “Dedicated Hospitality Minister debate provides hope for pub & bar sector” (that you can download below), Suzanne Davies found reasons to be hopeful from an 11 January 2021 parliamentary debate prompted by public petitions attracting a quarter of a million signatures.

Notwithstanding the generally positive tone of the debate, the Prime Minister responded – after Suzanne had written her article – in less than entirely positive terms to those who had supported the petitions. He said:

You’re right to identify the troubles of the hospitality sector, and it has been through a very difficult time. We are doing everything we can to support it, and the Chancellor, Business Secretary and I meet regularly with representatives of that sector. We have given all the grants, the recent increase in grants that you know of, on top of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and bounce back loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support. But the best thing for the hospitality sector is we all work together to defeat the virus, in the way I’m absolutely certain we can, with disciplined action and the vaccine roll-out, and get it back on its feet, and I am sure that is the best thing for it.

Subsequently, on 1 February 2021, in a letter to the Chair of the House of Commons Liaison Committee (referring to a letter dated 19 January 2021 received by him from the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell) the Prime Minister said:

Catherine McKinnell wrote to me about a Petitions Committee debate about Government support for the hospitality industry and the need for a dedicated Minister for Hospitality.

The hospitality sector plays an important role in driving local economies, providing jobs, and supporting communities across the country. That is why we have put in place one of the world’s most comprehensive economic responses to the pandemic – backed by over £280 billion – to protect jobs, businesses and public services throughout and beyond this pandemic. We have protected thousands of businesses with over £100 billion of support. This includes over £68 billion in loans, £27.5 billion in VAT deferrals and £11 billion in business grants.

Responsibility for the hospitality sector overall is split between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS). BEIS is responsible for food and beverage hospitality, such as cafes, pubs and restaurants, weddings and nightclubs, with DCMS responsible for hospitality accommodation. The split in responsibilities reflects the fact that the majority of hospitality businesses are SMEs, and BEIS has a great deal of experience in supporting businesses, while hospitality accommodation is more closely aligned with DCMS’s responsibility for tourism.

Both Departments work extremely closely together to ensure the interests of the hospitality sector overall is fully represented within Government, and both departments are fully committed in supporting the hospitality sector. Ministers from both departments host regular meetings with the sector and answer questions in Parliament on a range of subjects related to the hospitality sector.

The Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully, would be happy to meet Claire Bosi and the other petitioners to discuss this further.

You can find out more about this subject (including a full transcript of the 11 January 2021 debate) in our previous website posting entitled “Hospitality Industry and Covid-19 Briefing Paper”.


UPDATE: In a Petitions Committee news item dated 9 February 2021 entitled “Government agrees to meeting with hospitality sector petitioners following calls from the Petitions Committee” (that you can also download below), the above-mentioned meeting with Paul Scully is confirmed and Catherine McKinnell is quoted as saying:

Whilst I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to agree to our call for the Government to meet with petitioners and hear their concerns about the need for greater support for the hospitality sector, I hope the Prime Minister himself will consider their request that he creates a Minister for Hospitality to oversee Government delivery for this crucial diverse sector.

Although the Government has provided a range of support to the hospitality industry throughout this pandemic, there are still great challenges ahead and a co-ordinated approach on this issue is vital at this critical time.

The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, and remains vulnerable. Thousands of businesses are struggling and unclear about what lies ahead in the coming months, it is essential there is a focused voice within Government to represent the hospitality sector to ensure its place as a key driver of economic and cultural growth in every community.


Q&A: PCA

In the second Q&A within this edition of Pub & Bar, Suzanne answered a question about recommendations made by the PCA when imposing a £2million fine on Star Pubs & Bars. As previously reported by us, on 22 December 2020, the PCA announced that she had additionally:

  • made 8 recommendations, telling Star what it must do to make good the harm caused to tenants and to ensure that they comply with the Pubs Code, and
  • required Star to publish a letter on its website to all its tenants explaining the findings in the investigation report, what Star will do in response to the recommendations and how these measures will affect tenants from a practical point of view.

For more information (including the full details of the PCA’s recommendations), you can also download below the PCA’s news item entitled “Update following PCA investigation into Star Pubs & Bars”