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Manning the pumps - ed's letter

The news that the government has launched the Hospitality Sector Council to “help England’s pubs, restaurants and cafes to thrive” was greeted with enthusiasm this week, although less so in the hotel sector, which, due to a spot of bureaucracy, comes under the auspices of another department.

So hospitality without hotels and we’ve all stayed there, but apparently that falls under the auspices of the DCMS. Limewood Hotels’ Chairman and CEO Robin Hutson is on the council, so the full weight of hotels falls on him. No pressure.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “The hospitality industry has shown incredible creativity and resourcefulness through the pandemic, pivoting to new ways of doing business like al fresco dining and takeaway pints to stay safe, meet changing consumer demands and protect livelihoods.  

“With the launch of this council, we’re taking the next step in the journey to build back better from the pandemic by unveiling the experts who’ll be driving the reopening, recovery and resilience of the sector. It’s a real ‘Avengers Assemble’ moment for the industry.”

But who will be Iron Man? Because what is needed now is less hospitality and more straight talking. Furlough is ending and VAT is ramping back up even as we speak and the army may be coming out to deliver petrol, but they’re not going to be pumping beer.

The sector has managed to raise its voice during the pandemic, with a valiant and well-fought effort to get a dedicated minister and it needs to keep up the pressure. There is a huge wall of rent coming due and no plan as yet on how to deal with it. Tenants cannot be expected to pay it all, but investors will be wary of the sector after the years of persuading them it was a valid asset class.

We have the much-wanted seat at the table. Now not to let it go to waste.


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