With news of high street closures across the country, it is all too evident that our industry is feeling the strain of the unprecedented pressures it currently faces; increasing property and employment costs, dwindling access to skilled workers, and the continued unfair disparity between bricks and mortar and digital businesses on a number of fronts.
From our seaside towns through to the sprawling metropolises, every business in our industry is abundantly aware that changes need to happen to ensure we can continue to grow and invest, if we are to continue to contribute £130bn of economic activity and £38bn in tax receipts to the UK each year.
UKHospitality is determined to achieve Government action on these issues and is fully engaged with politicians and influencers, hammering home just what the social and economic impacts of policies such as the National Living Wage, business rates and Brexit are on the third largest private sector employer in the UK. If the UK is to continue to benefit from the economic success of hospitality businesses, we need the operating environment in which to be able to thrive.
Businesses are taking responsibility and have some great initiatives in place, from apprenticeship programmes to promoting healthy eating, as well as making great efforts to satisfy the plethora of regulatory burdens placed upon our businesses. The sharing economy is growing at an exponential rate, enjoying the fruits of an under-regulated market, handing unscrupulous commercial landlords an undeserved competitive advantage, while the rest of the law-abiding accommodation providers dutifully comply with the costly regulations imposed upon them. When other sectors are free to operate under a hidden economy, losing the Treasury an unknown, but presumably vast, amount in tax revenues, it begs the question why Government is not acting faster to address this, and are just now in the process of consulting on some of these issues. We need for Government to support what is an integral part of the economy and our efforts. To secure the future of our dynamic and indispensable industry we are asking Government, not for special treatment, but for a level playing field.
It is now just under one month until industry leaders from across the many sectors within our industry will descend on the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to dissect the opportunities and challenges currently facing the industry at Shaping the Future, UKHospitality’s annual industry-wide event. If you haven’t booked your place already, I would strongly advise that you do so, so you can be a part of helping the industry stand together as one to strategise how we can better resonate with Government and achieve our goals.
It is time to stop talking about the issues and time to kick things into high gear and set the wheels of change not just in motion, but speeding toward creating a levelling the playing field for our hospitality businesses.