We recently managed to grab five minutes with Claire Bosi to catch up on where the petition for government to appoint a Minister for Hospitality is currently.
On 11 January 2021, a debate in Westminster Hall, led by Catherine McKinnell MP raised the petition launched by Claire Bosi, editor of Chef & Restaurant Magazine, urging the creation of a Minister for Hospitality within the UK government.
The debate on the petition, which had raised over 208,000 signatures, was attended by 20 cross party MPs, though it had been noted that many more wished to attend, yet because of Covid restrictions, numbers allowed to sit were limited.
The overriding feeling from the MPs that spoke was of deep concern for the hospitality industry, and they all acknowledged that a voice in government, a champion in Whitehall and clear representation going forwards was critical for the sector.
So, after a successful debate, where does that leave the movement now? What happens next? And what can be done to get us a Minister for Hospitality appointed?
Bosi was happy to elaborate:
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the debate. It was apparent that the MPs, regardless of which party they stood for, or where in the UK they were based, agreed that a sector as large as ours, that employs so many, requires a dedicated Minister and not shared responsibility, lumped into others’ very busy portfolios.
“Ultimately, the decision lies with the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
“The plan now, moving forward is to continue to influence the Prime Minister, and those around him, setting out all the benefits to both government and the hospitality industry of having a senior voice by means of a Minister for Hospitality.
“Do I believe that Boris Johnson will make this one important appointment for our industry? I absolutely do. It is one of the most important decisions he could make for the future of our sector.
“I believe that he recognises the importance of hospitality and would like a collaborative approach for the future. There has been much damage done to our sector over the years, not just because of the pandemic. This damage has come from a deep disregard for our sector from certain politicians, and little investment in understanding the nuances and variances within the sector. A dedicated Minister can put right so many wrongs. For example, our culinary education providers have had funding slashed over and over again, until we now have only 170 colleges in the UK providing hospitality as a career. It is time our industry and the government worked together.
“Post Brexit, we run the risk of not having the necessary workforce to operate our businesses and maintain our current £138bn a year industry. We have, for years, relied on an EU workforce coming to the UK, and now that is not so straightforward. We must be in a position where we can encourage our own young people into the sector, that it is viewed as an aspirational career choice, and that it can lead to huge success. By endorsing our sector by giving it status within government, the PM can really accelerate this for us.
“The UK government needs a healthy and vibrant hospitality industry. Aside from the taxation revenue we give directly, we are the largest employers of under 25’s, we support students throughout their studies in other professions while they are at university by offering part time employment. And we are the go to industry when someone loses their job, and is in the process of seeking another – we save the government in unemployment benefits.”
So, while Claire and her team plan the next strategy for encouraging Boris Johnson to hear the case for a Minister for Hospitality, what can the rest of us do? Again Bosi was clear:
“Keep the conversation alive, speak directly with your own MPs. Engage with your staff and peers, speak with your customers – let’s stay positive, optimistic and hopeful.
“This request for a Minister has never been solely about the pandemic. It is about the future of one of the oldest and most exciting industries the UK has ever had. Look at the recent success of Clare Smyth – began her training at 16, at 42 becomes the UK’s first female 3 Michelin starred chef. We are global players, an industry the UK – and its government – can be proud of.
“Until Boris Johnson looks me in the eyes and explains why he feels the creation of a Minister for Hospitality is not the right form of representation for our sector, I will be forever pursuing this. I do recognise that he has a lot on his plate at the moment, and while we are not a priority, the time will come when we should be. And should we find ourselves with a new PM, or a new government, that statement remains.
“But, ultimately, I do feel that Boris Johnson will give great consideration to our request, and will see the benefit to his government in allowing us sole representation. There is a reshuffle due in the late spring and the timing will be perfect for a Minister for Hospitality to be appointed.”
Bosi is passionate about the campaign and the need for such an appointment, just as we were granted five minutes with her, we hope Boris Johnson grants Bosi the same.
News from the hospitality and catering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.
Hospitality & Catering News: Five minutes with… The Minister for Hospitality – 31 January 2021 – Five minutes with… The Minister for Hospitality.
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