Earlier this year Parliament debated the need of a Minister for Hospitality to be appointed in Government. The impact of the pandemic brought an issue that has simmered for years to the forefront, it was debated, carried unanimously, but no action taken.
Since the debate took place hospitality has continued to endure further extreme social and economic hardship, and this situation looks set to exacerbate though the summer months.
The staycation boom that ministers like the environment secretary George Eustice seem to imagine is still possible, is quite simply not. Eustice only today reiterated his advice to “holiday at home” advising people to go to “very, very busy” Cornwall, despite the critical people and skills shortages in hospitality.
As hospitality reopened, and continues to try and do so, the gap of skilled and experienced hospitality people caused by a minimum of 355,000, non UK nationals sent ‘home’ post Brexit exposed itself, all too rudely.
This gap has forced many hospitality providers to reduce their opening times accordingly. Pub groups – restaurant groups -even luminaries such as Michel Roux Jr in London, and Paul Askew in Liverpool have been forced to reduce business hours.
The news of the people and skills shortages has been covered across every main news provider in the UK. Our own coverage has been featured on national radio twice, by LBC’s James O’Brien and Times Radio’s Kait Borsay.
But Eustice, and possibly some or all of his cabinet colleagues seem blissfully unaware of this. Constrained by a limitation that if lifted would power a much needed boost to the UK economy, and the UK hospitality industry.
No amount of ad hoc recruitment or training can possibly create a skilled and experienced workforce sufficient to meet the task this summer. It cannot be done. It has been attempted before, but we are where we are.
The Kickstart scheme won’t fix it either, it is way behind schedule. Launched in October 2020 by Thérèse Coffey the scheme was designed to bring 250,000 young people on Universal Credit into part time work, 25 hours a week. Now, a full 8 months later 16,500 young people have joined the scheme across all industries.
Big problems need big solutions, brave solutions, taken for the good of the country even if that side-lines a political objective temporarily. Closing the door to a solution intentionally is negligent. There is a very real and pressing need to welcome back people that can do the jobs required to reopen, and fuel a boom in staycations.
Government is busier now than any previous due to the scale and scope of dealing with the pandemic. So, just like hospitality needs to be allowed to employ experienced people that can help with reopening, and staycations, Government needs a Minister for Hospitality to focus exclusively on the industry that can and will lead a wellbeing and economic recovery, if allowed to.
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: The need right now for a Minister of Hospitality emphasised by George Eustice. – 8 June 2021 – The need right now for a Minister of Hospitality emphasised by George Eustice.
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