UKHospitality: Level ’22?

Chief executive Kate Nicholls on how UKHospitality aims to help the government in its levelling up agenda...

I’ll never tire of championing hospitality as the industry best placed to lead the UK’s post-Covid recovery. Okay, the cost-of-living crisis isn’t exactly helping but, resilient to the core, we’ll get through that too.

In the same way that if you want something doing you should ask a busy person, hospitality can also take a leading role in helping the government deliver its levelling up agenda. So much needs doing, and because our sector is so woven into the fabric of life in the UK, we can’t help but be involved in getting so much done.

Inspired, then, by levelling up, our annual summer conference theme this year is The Rising Tide – Hospitality as a Catalyst for Nationwide Growth. It will explore how our industry, including contract catering, will deliver solutions to issues such as access to labour, skills, investment, recovery strategies and local regeneration.

Ahead of the conference, we’ll be publishing a paper (Level up Hospitality – Level Up Society) setting out the unique position we’re in to deliver growth in every local community, unlocking growth and opportunity across the country. The paper identifies six of the government’s 12 ‘missions’ on which our industry can have the greatest impact.

It really can have a significant impact, because don’t forget that before the pandemic, hospitality created £130bn in economic activity and generated £39bn of tax for the exchequer, funding vital services. Ours was also the third-largest private sector employer in the UK, representing 10% of employment.

Not only that, but our sector is well positioned to support the government’s ambitions to improve social mobility, boasting a vast range of opportunities, from entry level jobs to highly skilled ones. It can also provide myriad pathways to suit the needs of individuals of all ages, while also providing continuous professional development.

So, what about those six missions we’re best able to help with? They are local leadership, skills, pride in place, health and wellbeing, digital connectivity, and research and development.

Local leadership
UKHospitality will support local government to ensure that hospitality businesses are able to thrive.

Hospitality must better promote its roles as long-term and fulfilling career options, and ensure that there are entry points at various levels into the industry.

Pride in place
Hospitality is central to delivering pride in place. Our venues are at the core of every local community, providing people with places to socialise, relax and rest, and were so often at the forefront of revitalising local communities.

Health and wellbeing
The hospitality sector will support the delivery of health and wellbeing across the nation by showcasing its role as complementary to a healthy lifestyle, promoting active lifestyles, and through the availability of healthy menus.  

Digital connectivity
Hospitality venues will level up through the digital connectivity platform, enhancing connectivity by ensuring that all venues are able to offer consumers access to high-speed data.

Research and development
The sector hospitality industry will look to play a leading role in the roll-out of research and development (R&D) across hospitality, stimulating growth and boosting productivity. R&D will also help us achieve our ambitious net-zero targets.

By working with government, the hospitality sector will deliver on levelling up every town, regenerating high streets and reigniting local economies. The sector – whether contract caterers, pubs, restaurants or point-of-sale technology providers – holds huge potential ready to be unlocked with the right support from government.

We’ve seen off Covid, are battling the cost of living and will deliver levelling up. Resilient? Oh yes!

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