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Top tags: one voice  UKHospitality  Food Hygiene  Shaping the Future 

A seismic change to modern Britain’s political landscape

Posted By Pernille Thomsen, UKHospitality, 13 December 2019

The exit poll at 10:00pm revealed a seismic change to modern Britain’s political landscape. Despite evidence of polls narrowing in the final week of the campaign, Boris Johnson would be returned as Prime Minister, with a thumping majority. As the night wore on, the size and scale of the Conservative victory became clear. Labour heartland seats, in which a Conservative victory had previously been unthinkable, were now turning blue. Former mining communities like Tony Blair’s former seat in Sedgfield (a Labour majority of over 25,000 in 1997), Bishop Auckland (Labour majority of 21,064 in 1997) and Workington (19,656 in 1997) had all voted Conservative, in some cases for the first time since the Second World War. As the dust settles on this campaign and all parties look to chart a course for the future, it is clear that UK politics has changed for a generation.


When unpicking the results, it is apparent that Brexit was the key issue in this election, in a manner that was not the case in 2017. The clear messaging that underpinned the Conservative campaign resonated in areas that overwhelmingly voted to leave the European Union in 2016. Aided by the decision of the Brexit Party to stand aside in all constituencies that the Conservatives won in 2017, the vote swung heavily behind the Conservative Party in many leave voting areas. Brexit was an integral part of this, although it should be noted that the so called ‘Red Wall’ in the Midlands and North of the country had been trending Conservative over the course of the last several election cycles.


There is now no doubt that Brexit will be delivered by the 31st January 2020. Following the Queen’s speech, Boris Johnson will bring back his Brexit bill prior to Christmas, looking to rapidly move it through the House of Commons. After the bill has passed, the UK will have until the end of the transition period in December 2020 to strike a deal with the EU.For businesses within the hospitality sector there is now finally some clarity regarding Brexit, which for the past three years has deterred investment and impacted on consumer spend. It should however be noted, that a no deal Brexit, a fear of many sector businesses, is still possible if a deal is not struck between the EU and UK by December 2020.


The Conservative manifesto included a number of business-friendly measures that hospitality businesses will welcome. For example, the decision to fundamentally review business rates will please a sector that is hit disproportionately by the current ratings system. Another notable pro-business commitment that will be universally welcomed by SMEs is the pledge to increase the employer national insurance allowance for small businesses from £3,000 to £4,000. This will result in a tax cut for more than half a million firms nationally.


Pledges to invest in public services like road and rail links across the UK should provide a boost to rural areas and to tourism. Meanwhile, on immigration policy, the hospitality sector will hope that the softening in the Prime Ministers rhetoric on the week of the vote will translate to an immigration policy that allows businesses to access migrant workers of all skill levels.


While the size of the majority, the Conservatives largest since 1987, puts Johnson in an extremely strong position, his next term will not be without challenges. The strong performance of the SNP has reopened the debate on Scottish independence, with Nicola Sturgeon confirming that the Scottish Government will next week publish a ‘detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge.’ With the Conservatives gaining seats in England but losing them in Scotland and the SNP performing better than expected in terms of vote share, the battle lines are being drawn for what increasingly looks to be an inevitable Indyref2.


For the Labour Party a period of lengthy self-examination is required. The surprising result in 2017, which saw Corbyn pick up seats and 40% of the vote, had led many to believe that the party needed one last push to get into Government. It will be the job of future leadership candidates to debate whether it was Brexit, the Corbyn agenda, or another factor that led to the collapse in support of the party, with a leadership campaign anticipated early next year. In terms of the runners and riders, the Labour membership may wish to install a successor closely linked to Corbyn, such as Rebecca Long Bailey or Angela Rayner. More moderate options such as Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry or even Jess Phillips would potentially make effective leaders, but they must first get the endorsement of an increasingly left leaning membership.


Given the comprehensive nature of the victory, the Conservative Party will now be in power for the next five years. They have the mandate they sought to deliver Brexit and will also be able to pursue a legislative path of their choosing. Regardless of political affiliation, it is difficult to contest that the past three years of debating Brexit has led to the neglect of legislation on a number of other areas. The hope from the sector will now be that attention shifts back to key issues that determine the health of our high street businesses.

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So, who’s going to win?

Posted By UKHospitality, 12 December 2019
If only we knew! Five weeks of political badinage saw few, if any, weighty punches landed. As we head into the only poll that really matters, the average view of opinion pollsters gives Conservatives a 9 or 10-point lead over Labour.

The only accurate predictor in the 2017 election, the YouGov MRP poll, forecast a Tory majority of 28 seats. While significantly larger than the previous two General Election outcomes, by historic standards it would be a fairly knife-edge Parliamentary environment. It would likely be enough for Prime Minister Johnson (should he hold his seat!) to push Brexit through: he will have ranks of MPs behind him, elected on a pledge to “get Brexit done”, not forgetting a handful of pro-Brexit Labour MPs, too.

The real significance of the majority size lies beyond getting Brexit done. The smaller the majority, the tighter the constraints upon Johnson from the vociferous and sizeable groupings at the far right of his party; the larger the majority, the more liberal his policies are likely to be. That could significantly influence issues affecting hospitality, such as the complexion of the forthcoming Immigration Bill, and our subsequent access to labour from abroad.

The reportedly large numbers of undecided voters makes a hung Parliament (or even a Conservative landslide) quite possible. Yesterday’s poll from ICM - once the most respected of pollsters - had the Conservatives just 6 points ahead, which would make a hung Parliament inevitable.

A patched-together coalition of Labour (perhaps forcibly without Corbyn at the helm), the SNP and possibly the Liberals and/or other minority parties, would be straitjacketed by the conflicting demands of each party. Measures to enable scrapping Brexit would be at the fore, feasibly at the expense of steps that could threaten the integrity of the union of the United Kingdom. To the relief of many and frustration of others, it would also likely limit Labour’s ability to impose its more radical manifesto proposals, although their national living wage rises would probably be in the more deliverable basket of possible measures, with unwelcome consequences for business.

Politically, the most interesting outcome of this election might be in the aftermath analysis, tactical voting has largely been peripheral in British voting behaviour but could this time be a reality - the leave/remain divide demonstrably does cross traditional political party loyalties.

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Why this election matters to Scottish hospitality

Posted By Richard Clifford, UKHospitality, 11 December 2019

Following last night’s leaders debates, it is tempting to view the election campaign in Scotland as one trapped irremovably in constitutional quarrels. Should Scotland be taken out of the EU, despite a vote to remain in 2016? Should there be a second referendum on independence? If there is a referendum, should Scotland become an independent country? These questions have undoubtedly been front and centre during the campaign and will play a major role in the way that people vote across the country tomorrow. 

But for the hospitality sector, there is more at play than questions of patriotism, nationhood and even future relations with the EU. For the last five weeks, UKHospitality has been across Scotland, speaking with businesses and candidates about the importance of the hospitality sector in individual constituencies and to Scotland’s economy as a whole. There is a lot to consider and much to welcome in the parties’ proposals ahead of the General Election.


The importance of tourism to the national economy has been rightly recognised by all parties. Tourism contributes around £7billion annually to Scotland’s GDP, with the hospitality sector alone contributing £5.9bn per year and providing employment for 270,000 people. The Scottish National Party, which has a section of its manifesto dedicated to tourism and hospitality, have addressed a long-held industry aim, calling on the Westminster Government to reduce VAT for the hospitality sector to 5%. This proposal should be embraced by hospitality businesses across Scotland, offering the opportunity to level the playing field with other EU nations and the potential for more tourism jobs.

All parties have committed to improving transport links to rural areas, which should boost tourism to remote areas of natural beauty. Labour has pledged extensive improvements to Scotland’s rail network and promising to bring Scotland’s railways back into public ownership. The Conservative Party meanwhile has pledged a UK wide £100bn investment programme on rail and bus links.

But it has not been overwhelmingly positive for tourism, with potential challenges being put forward in some of the manifestos. The decision of the Liberal Democrats and Labour to support the introduction of a ‘TVL’ will undoubtedly be greeted with disappointment within the sector, adding another cost at the profit margin will provide difficulty in attracting foreign tourists. Given that there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that this would negatively impact tourism, and with so many questions remaining about implementation, blanket commitments to this policy clearly run in the face of vociferous opposition from businesses.


On immigration, there has been notable cross-party support among some (but not all) parties about the benefits that freedom of movement has brought to sectors like hospitality. It is very encouraging for the industry to see support from Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats for an immigration system that clearly benefits Scottish hospitality.

The Conservatives decision to support an Australian style points-based system and end freedom of movement should be greeted with caution, though more information is needed before an informed judgement can be made. It is imperative that any future UK Government allows hospitality businesses in Scotland the ability to recruit migrant workers of all skill levels, while also allows for temporary visas and in-country switching, which has been a staple of sector recruitment for decades.

The SNP have suggested that an additional Scottish Visa should be created, offering a different route for entry to Scotland alongside existing UK immigration legislation. This has the potential to support sector recruitment in Scotland if the UK wide system is more restrictive.

Business friendly policies

A number of pro-business policies have been announced in party manifestos. While business rates is a devolved issue, cross-party support to review business rates in the UK and support for examining other options should be welcomed by the sector, with the Scottish Government encouraged to follow suit. Conservative and SNP support for reductions in National Insurance Contributions for small businesses meanwhile, would also provide a tax cut for thousands of small businesses across Scotland.


As the election heads into its final act, voters across Scotland will head to the polls to choose a path for Scotland’s future. The decisions that Scottish voters will make will have a clear impact on the electoral map, with the potential that any of the parties likely to win seats will end up in Government. For hospitality businesses, the proposals the parties have made have clearly recognise the importance of hospitality to Scotland’s economy. It is imperative that whichever party/parties form the next Government, they maintain this commitment while in office.



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What more can hospitality businesses glean about the future direction of the country from the final leadership debate

Posted By Richard Clifford, UKHospitailty, 10 December 2019

With only days until the General Election, the party leaders have now faced off for the final time. Over the campaign, the two parties have laid out policy positions that contrast as sharply as those within any UK General Election campaign in recent memory. Last Friday was the last of three opportunities to see Corbyn and Johnson head to head, clashing on their respective visions for the country.

Following that clash, what more can hospitality sector businesses glean about the future direction of the country? The truth is: not a lot. In each debate, both candidates have given sharp enough performances, outlining the key themes that they are attempting to persuade voters with. Many of the issues that the will impact the hospitality sector were largely absent from the debate. The excuse given by CCHQ for Johnson’s refusal to sit down with Andrew Neil - that it is a ‘tired format’ that ‘needs to change if it is to start engaging the public’- would perhaps be better applied to the leaders debates. There were few memorable moments and so many key areas remained untouched.

The common theme for all the debates, unsurprisingly, was Brexit; Friday’s debate was no exception. Like other sectors, hospitality is thirsty for clarity on Brexit after December 12th. Going head to head, both candidates stuck to their respective Brexit mantras, with Johnson repeatedly portraying himself as the only candidate able to ‘get Brexit done.’ Corbyn meanwhile, put forward Labour’s plans to renegotiate the deal and have a referendum within 6 months.

Both parties claim should be treated with caution. Further ambiguity on the outcome of Brexit, including the prospect of another protracted referendum campaign, could deter investment in the UK, while the Conservative’s refusal to take No Deal off the table during trade negotiations runs contrary to the widely held view that a no deal Brexit would have a significant and detrimental impact across the sector.

The debates stuck largely to either Brexit or other emotive issues such as the NHS; it’s a shame that the connection between businesses – from where we gain our employment and incomes – and the public, seemed to have bypassed our political leaders’ debates.

Regardless of who wins the election, hospitality businesses will be hopeful that these issues are addressed as an area of priority, not as an afterthought. Each party has outlined some major changes in these areas within their manifestos, which are detailed in greater depth here.

Come early Friday morning, the UK will (or should) know which vision of the future the public have chosen. While the debates may not have recognised it, whichever candidate walks through the doors of 10 Downing Street, the impact on the hospitality sector will be considerable. 

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Unleashing the sector's potential

Posted By Pernille Thomsen, UKHospitality, 09 December 2019

There are fewer than 100 hours remaining until Britain starts voting for an administration to embark on the much-vaunted first 100 days of a new Government. Whatever the outcome may be, our message to the new government is simple – unleash hospitality’s potential and it will unleash Britain’s potential.

We published Menu for Change, our vision for an operating environment that unleashes our sector’s potential, empowering us to optimise productivity and growth and, in turn, benefit communities across the UK. Given the right circumstances, the sector can grow output by 5.5% during the next three years and is in pole position to lead on issues as diverse as sustainability, promoting healthier attitudes to food and drink, and job creation. Hospitality can be the catalyst to revive Britain’s high streets.

Hospitality is the engine of the UK - socially, culturally and economically and as such is vital for the UK economy across every region of the UK, from seaside towns to rural communities. But with a supportive climate that incentivises investment, we can do even more.

Hospitality businesses provide jobs and are the centre of our social lives – the places we spend leisure time with our family and friends. UKHospitality’s data map illustrates the economic impact of hospitality in every constituency in England, Scotland and Wales.

Following the election, UKH will be targeting newly or re-appointed MPs to start their term in Government with hospitality businesses in mind and with an understanding of how we can help them achieve their goals of building a prosperous country for all.

We will lobby for an immigration system that works for the whole economy at all skills levels. The Conservatives’ latest proposals for short-term visas to be granted in sectors suffering shortages, is a confirmation that they are hearing our call to avoid exacerbating skills shortages and allow hospitality to continue its work boosting the domestic workforce. Reform of the Apprenticeship Levy and support for a long-term strategy to create and promote attractive and fulfilling careers as part of the sector deal would similarly empower hospitality.

The Government can further support us by reducing costs and rebalancing tax and regulation. Measures to free up investment must be front and centre: deliver on promises to review business taxation, reduce the burden on property-based outlets, and save our high streets supported by immediate cuts in rates bills. We can be a linchpin for local regeneration, infrastructure projects and increased inward investment.

Often overlooked as an exporter, hospitality forms the core of Britain’s attractiveness as a thriving and valuable tourist destination, bringing in over £24bn from visitor spend. Delivering on the new tourism sector deal and establishing “tourism zones” will unlock our potential as a valuable national employer, changing perceptions of the rewarding careers we offer. These will drive visitor numbers across the country, extend the season and incentivise investment in these areas.

It is important that we convey these positive contributions and our added potential loudly and clearly to our new MPs. Help us by using the toolkits and resources available on the UKHospitality website to contact them, invite them into your businesses and solicit their support for our sector.

Whoever holds the keys to 10 Downing Street on Friday, 13 December, we’ll ensure they know hospitality is a responsible employer and community champion, keen to play our part in resolving the challenges we face collectively.

To download a copy of our Menu for Change, click here or for help and guidance on contacting your local MP candidate, email

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A look at how the main party manifestos align with the needs of hospitality

Posted By Pernille Thomsen, UKHospitality, 05 December 2019
Updated: 04 December 2019
As the General Election enters its penultimate week, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will spend the next fortnight traversing the country, defending and promoting the vision outlined in their manifestos. Both leading candidates claim to offer a transformative agenda for the UK, positioning themselves as the candidate who can provide real change. This desire to reform is reflected in the manifestos of all parties, within which there is much to welcome for the hospitality industry. From reform of business taxation, increased spending on colleges and training, investments in vital infrastructure projects and changes to immigration policy, the outcome of this election could have a profound and predominantly positive impact on hospitality businesses across the UK.

For an industry that has spent years vociferously campaigning on the costs borne by businesses, it is encouraging to see a cross-party commitment to significant reform. The current system of business rates disproportionately hits hospitality businesses, causing a collective overpayment by almost £2billion annually, with a lengthy, ineffective review process that has seen businesses go bust before receiving refunds that they are due. The Conservative Party has pledged to fundamentally review the system, with Labour and the Lib Dems both pledging to consider a land value tax and a commercial landowner levy respectively. Reform to a system that had badly damaged the UK’s high street is overdue, welcome and necessary.

Another notable pro-business commitment that will be universally welcomed by SMEs in the sector is the Conservative pledge to increase the employer national insurance allowance for small businesses from £3,000 to £4,000. This will result in a tax cut for more than half a million firms nationally. In Scotland meanwhile, support from the SNP for cutting tourism VAT to 5% recognises a long-held industry ask to reduce a tax that is widely seen to hamstring businesses. Supporting businesses by reducing their costs will enable them to invest in their workforce, driving economic benefit for the local area.

All parties have considered the UK’s future workforce requirements, with Labour pledging to make it easier for employers to spend the apprenticeship levy and the Lib Dems and Conservatives pledging significant increases in funding for colleges. For the hospitality sector, which has a significant number of migrant workers within the workforce, it is positive that Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP have each recognised the benefits that freedom of movement has provided for the economy. Regardless of who wins the election, it is imperative that there is an immigration policy that works for the whole economy.

To help promote tourism in the UK, both Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have proposed significant investment in transport links, which would be a significant boost for rural tourism. On short-term letting, Labour has recognised the concern of accommodation businesses, committing to regulate properties that are used for this purpose. 

With 12 December rapidly approaching, we will soon know which vision for the country’s future the public have endorsed. As a sector, the fact that all the political parties have recognised hospitality’s importance to the UK’s economy should be welcomed and celebrated.

To read UKH's Menu for Change, click here and for any comments or questions, contact the team at

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Hospitality can be Government’s secret weapon for positive growth for UK’s communities

Posted By Pernille Thomsen, UKHospitality, 02 December 2019

Hospitality is crucial to the health of the UK economy, providing much-needed growth, investment and jobs in every single region of the UK. It is the UK’s 3rd largest private sector employer, contributing a significant £130bn to HM Treasury. There are few industries that can match the fantastic career and training prospects offered by the hospitality industry to workplace entrants of all skill levels, however it’s not just the sector’s employees but also consumers more broadly that benefit from its success. Hospitality is part of every community across the country, providing food, drink, comfort and enjoyment on both special occasions and in everyday life. Without hospitality, visitors to our astonishingly diverse land would not have the experiences that keep the UK consistently ranked as one of the best global tourist destinations. And yet, it is still overlooked and often perceived as a low paid and low skilled industry. This is far from the reality of our highly skilled and talented sector, and perceptions must change.

This General Election is an opportunity to influence future policymakers and ensure they see hospitality for what it is - a dynamic, vibrant and innovative industry and an economic powerhouse.

We have published our Menu for Change – a vision for  the hospitality industry’s future, outlining the operating environment that would unleash the true potential of our industry. This sets out opportunities for the incoming Government to support and work collaboratively with a sector that directly employs 3.2 million people across the UK. The first step to achieving this, and to showcase our industry’s potential, is to engage with parliamentary candidates as soon as possible and help build support for hospitality with this country’s future policymakers. Since UKHospitality launched the Menu for Change, we have enjoyed fantastic engagement with candidates from the main parties who have shown real enthusiasm for our industry.

This is a great start, but we can do more – every effort invested now can pay great dividends in the new Parliament, so it is crucial that we use this time to impress on them the importance and value of the sector in their local communities, that can help grow the local and national economy, and support UK jobs and investment. This is likely to be the most significant election for hospitality in generations, and we have a real opportunity to push for policy changes that will help our sector thrive.

Parliamentary candidates are always keen to speak to the businesses in their constituency, so let’s not waste this opportunity. We have produced a number of assets to help businesses invite local candidates to visit their business to start, or cement, crucial relations with the next Parliament’s MPs and with their future local representatives.

To access the member toolkit, or for more information and support on how to contact your local parliamentary candidate, contact the team at


 Attached Thumbnails:

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Top of the Ops

Posted By Kate Nicholls, UKH CEO, 26 September 2019

The final of this year’s UKHospitality Operations Managers Awards is almost upon us. This year’s winners will be announced on 8 October at Bar Salsa in Central London. If one of your team is a Finalist, then you will no doubt be looking forward to the big night. If nobody from the company is involved this year, then I still encourage you to book a ticket, come along and find out what a great occasion it is.

If you are not familiar with the Operations Managers Awards, then you are missing out on one of the highlights of the hospitality calendar. Now in its 24th year, the Awards was established at the ALMR by its then Chief Executive, Nick Bish. Nick continues to guide the Awards and has worked to evolve them for more than twenty years now. Winners used to be announced at the annual Christmas Lunch, and now they are unveiled during a dedicated event celebrating the huge amount of work the finalists have put into the Awards over the course of the year.

And the work that goes into winning an Operations Managers Awards really does take most of the year. The Awards is much more than one night in the sector’s social calendar. This annual competition is a rigorous test of a manager’s skill, knowledge and flair that begins in early Spring and continues until October. The process, which is the only one of its kind in hospitality, has several parts, beginning with a comprehensive entry paper and ending with an exhaustive panel interview, by way of a three-day MasterClass and in-the-field assessment. The Awards is designed to be tough in order to identify the very best that hospitality businesses have to offer. Within our sector, it is widely regarded as a the most searching test of an ops manager’s skill and determination, and the innovation, insight and skill they bring to their businesses.

The inaugural winner was Simon Longbottom who was, at the time, the operations manager of Mill House Inns and who has, it would be fair to say, gone on to achieve considerable success in hospitality! Finalists in recent years have come from across the hospitality sector from businesses including: Bella Italia, Mitchells & Butlers, Deltic Group, Yo! Sushi and Stonegate Pubs. The wide range of businesses reflects not only the diversity of our sector, but also the way in which the Awards has grown and evolved since its inception as a pub-focused competition 24-years ago.

One of the Awards’ great strengths has to be its robust and comprehensive judging process. Entry papers are in-depth and probe entrants’ understanding of the sector in which they work along with the contribution they make. Entrants must be able to highlight examples in which they have made significant commercial success, otherwise they will go no further. From there, a maximum of 20 finalists will get feedback on their psychometric profile before the three-day MasterClass focusing on leadership, strategic thinking, change management and business in society. Finalists are then assessed in the field, before individual interviews before two separate judging panels.

The Operations Managers Awards judging process is so rigorous that it won Best Judging Panel and Process and the 2019 Awards Awards against competition from national charities, publishers and NGAs so our Winners can be entirely confident that they have thoroughly earned the accolade.

That exhaustive but stimulating process will culminate this year on 8 October and I want to wish all the Finalists the best of luck. If you are interested in getting involved, then I encourage to nominate your best ops managers next year and give them a chance to pit their wits and expertise against their peers. In the meantime, even if you do not have any team members nominated that is no reason not to attend the ceremony. In fact, there is every reason you should come along and enjoy the Awards as a spectator, before you yourself get involved in 2020.

Keep your eyes peeled early next year as nominations open for the 2020 Awards. In the meantime, visit the UKHospitality website to book tickets to this year’s ceremony and make sure you don’t miss out.


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Hospitality cultivating happiness in the workplace

Posted By Kate Nicholls, 21 February 2019

Happiness in the workplace is self-evidently one of the key factors to improving job satisfaction and productivity. A happy workforce tends to be a productive one and it is a good idea for employers to foster a contented and harmonious working environment for their staff.

Happily, the hospitality sector excels when it comes to keeping staff happy.  Earlier this year, a report published by Engaging Works, a company dedicated to improving levels of happiness in the workplace, showed high levels of contentedness in our sector. Among the hospitality workers surveyed, two thirds felt happy in their jobs.

This is a vindication of everything we constantly say: that we believe the sector to be one of the most rewarding and exciting places to work. Our members, and hospitality businesses in general, are fun and interesting work spaces, providing challenging but rewarding work.

Many jobs within our sector demand high levels of staff motivation and training. It’s this work from your ‘unsung heroes’, the kitchen porters, and housekeepers, that can be integral to businesses – hotels can’t function without clean rooms and restaurants can’t serve meals without clean plates. With proper training and the right equipment, and products, it is possible to get sparkling results in less time with less elbow grease, which can lead to higher job satisfaction.

Furthermore, a tidy workspace can help foster a tidy, productive and happy mind. Perhaps inspired by Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of geomancy, young chefs are taught from week one to ensure their benches and kitchen counter-tops are clean and orderly. The resulting lack of clutter not only prevents the build-up of germs, it ensures chefs are unburdened by the distraction of rubbish and free to focus on their culinary art. It’s an approach to cleanliness, and indeed happiness, that employers should bear in mind. 

When I go out to visit our members’ venues, I always meet happy and motivated staff, encouraged by their positive working environments and empowered to continually push themselves. This is obviously useful for businesses as team members work harmoniously in a mutually beneficial atmosphere that supports and encourages them while at the same time, boosting the bottom line.

To provide practical examples of how to implement change to create a positive work environment, we’ve partnered with P&G Professional to deliver an educational webinar ‘More than Money: Ways to motivate, retain and attract staff in turbulent times’. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from and ask questions to the panel of industry experts. Click here to register to the webinar.

To learn more click here.


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Allergy Safety

Posted By Dr Lisa Ackerley, Food Safety Adviser, UKHospitality, 28 September 2018
Please note this blog was written prior to the tragic incident of a fatal allergy incident, covered widely in the media. In light of that incident, UKH felt it important to proceed in posting this blog, to help raise awareness of the issues around the confusion that can occur with allergy labelling.


Allergies are on the rise in the UK according to a report by Foods Matter, ‘a staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise, growing by around 2 million between 2008 and 2009 alone’. Whatever the reason may be, allergens are on the menu.


Food and drinks establishments will have collated their allergen information to give to guests who need to know. However, whilst businesses understand the legal requirements of allergy labelling, the average Joe may not. For example, current food labelling regulations allow businesses which produce food on site to provide reduced labelling even of wrapped foods, which is very different to factory-made products. Crucially the list of ingredients on these food items may not be given, unlike a pre-packed product which would have allergens highlighted. Absence of allergens on a food label could potentially lead to customers making assumptions that there are no allergens in the food. Furthermore, they may not be encouraged to ask about allergens because they may mistakenly believe there are none.

In allergy world, the most vulnerable groups are young adults. When allergic children grow up and leave home, that is when they are at their most vulnerable too. It is possible to assume that all their lives, they have been protected by parents who have made sure they don’t get exposed to a potentially fatal allergen; when they go to school, the school dinner servers know all about them – there is even a picture of them behind the counter. When they go out to eat, their parents ask the embarrassing question about what is in the food. Their friends are aware – it’s been part of life.

Then, off they go to University, meet new friends, and they are on their own with their allergy. Perhaps they are sick of being the allergic person in the group. Rather than risk being the odd one out, they try to navigate the menu without asking, hoping for the best. Rather than take their adrenaline pen in a handbag or pocket which is just not cool, they go out with just their mobile and £20 tucked behind the case. They also may not have told their new friends about their condition because that is also not cool. 

Easy to ask 

This is the time of year when young allergic adults are most vulnerable and the Food Standards Agency “#Easytoask” campaign is raising awareness of the need for allergic people to ask food servers about allergens and not take unnecessary risk. But how can the hospitality industry play its part?


Where you have the opportunity always ask in a nice friendly way – does anyone here have any foods they need to avoid? Open a two-way dialogue and get them talking. Some people are allergic to foods other than those on the legal list of 14. That’s why talking is so important - it could save lives.

If you serve wrapped foods, for example in a canteen cold display, consider that your customers may not be aware of the difference between your sandwich and one from a major retailer and could be expecting to see full allergen information on that pack. A line inviting people to ask about allergens on the packaging could help to prevent confusion.

If in doubt always refer to your allergen documentation, make this information available to customers or consider having an allergy champion on site at all times.

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