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‘We need to see Labour deliver on its commitments, and quick.’

UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls

Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive

With the election result confirmed, our Chief Executive Kate Nicholls reflects on what this means for hospitality, both now and into the future.

The 'change election'

It was dubbed the change election, and there has been quite a change.

Whether you’re bleary-eyed after pulling an election all-nighter or digesting the results over your mid-morning coffee, it’s impossible not to recognise that this new Labour government, with a significant majority, represents a major shift for the country and hospitality.

A new Prime Minister, with a large mandate, will begin appointing his Cabinet and our relentless work campaigning on your behalf steps up a notch, once again, to ensure that we capitalise fully on the opportunities a fresh new government can bring.

Fortunately, we have been fostering a close relationship with the Labour Party for many years already.

We’ve been having detailed policy discussions with Angela Rayner, Rachel Reeves and Jonathan Reynolds, all major figures in Opposition, and now set for leading roles in the Cabinet.

Just a few weeks ago, Sir Keir Starmer addressed our summer conference in a video message in which he recognised the importance of our sector as one that creates places where people want to live, work and invest.

Two key pledges

Read our agenda for government:

Serving Britain white paper - our agenda for government

That recognition extended into policy commitments, with UKHospitality securing two key pledges in the Labour Party manifesto.

We were delighted to see a promise to replace the broken business rates system and reduce the burden on hospitality businesses, which pay three times theirfair share of rates as a proportion of turnover.

With a cliff-edge looming in April, when relief is set to end and rates due to increase, this needs to be addressed in the first 100 days. This can be done easily through the introduction of a permanently reduced multiplier for hospitality and tourism, at a rate of 30p in the pound.

The second is the commitment to reform the Apprenticeship Levy. Introducing more flexibility, through the planned Growth and Skills Levy, would transform the way we are able to invest in skills.

Crucially, reform would free up funds to permanently rollout our skills pilot scheme, which we successfully ran with the Department for Work and Pensions and training partners, to help people currently out of work into jobs in hospitality.

Foundation of the everyday economy

We’ve seen Labour speak about hospitality as one of the key foundations of the everyday economy and now we need to see them deliver on these commitments, and quick.

Because from the humble pub to luxury hotel; from school dinners to Michelin-starred dining; from mini golf to theme parks and everything in between, hospitality lies at the heart of our communities right, across the UK.

We generate more than £140 billion in turnover, raise £54 billion in tax receipts, funding vital services, and support more than 3.5 million jobs.

Our value is in the life we bring to our high streets, the vital services we offer in rural villages, in the spaces we create where the lonely can come to find company, families gather to celebrate, and friends come together for a catch-up.

Back hospitality

Our policy asks:

Serving Britain - policy ideas to unlock growth

That’s why it’s so important to back hospitality. With the right support, as a sector we can grow by 6% each year for the next five years and create half a million new jobs.

And with the economy showing signs of improvement and consumer confidence growing, that sector growth can help keep the country on the road to economic recovery.

But we need the right conditions to do that, and we’ve set out how the government can achieve this, in addition to our asks on rates and levy reform.

Within the first 100 weeks, we need to see reduced employer National Insurance Contributions to help sector businesses with their staffing costs. To help drive net zero, green investment in the sector needs to be better supported, for example through the introduction of investment credits.

In this parliamentary term, planning reform needs to take place to allow the sector to invest, grow and regenerate our towns and cities. Too often, expansion plans are curtailed by arcane and arduous planning laws.

Finally, there needs to be movement on VAT. We know the benefits a lower rate can deliver through increased demand, higher footfall and lower prices, and it would crucially make us competitive again with our European neighbours.

Help us grow

And so, our work continues on your behalf. We look forward to hearing over the coming days confirmation of the new Cabinet and we will be getting in front of all the key Secretaries of State to impress upon them the importance of hospitality to the economy, our communities, and the country.

So, at the end of a change election, let’s hope the new Government moves quickly to fulfil its promises to hospitality businesses and build that environment to help us grow.

This piece first appeared in Propel's Friday Opinion, on Friday 5 July 2024.

General Election webinar: what’s next for hospitality

All members are invited to join us for a webinar on Tuesday 9 July at 12:30pm following the result of the General Election.

Hear from CEO Kate Nicholls and our executive team on what the next government has in store for the sector, who the key Ministers are likely to be and the timeline for the first 100 days.

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