Today 150 hospitality businesses will gather in Westminster to call for measures including the freezing of business rates in a bid to ease the pressure on the high street.
Businesses will meet with more than 60 MPs to champion the sector and launch UKHospitality’s Aim High campaign.
The campaign is calling for the introduction of a digital sales tax, the freezing of business rate increases, the doubling of the National Insurance contribution threshold for employers and the creation of a level-playing field for property and online businesses. The industry leaders will also call for a Brexit that delivers its workforce needs without extra costs.
The push comes as new research by Ignite Economics predicts that the size of the sector’s workforce and its contribution to the economy could begin to drop by 2022.
The hospitality industry currently employs 3.2 million people across the UK and contributes £130b to the UK economy, but the research suggests that recent cost pressures such as minimum wage increases, business rates, and a reduction in the supply of labour could see 312,000 fewer people directly employed in the sector. The report also notes that with the right government support employment could grow by 66,000 to reach an employment workforce for 3.5 million and an economic contribution of £89b in the next four years.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “With more news of high street closures across the country coupled with the new findings that that the industry could see a fall in the number of people employed, our industry is feeling the strain of the unprecedented pressures it currently faces.
“It is time to stop talking and start taking action. Today we want to hear meaningful change from parliamentarians and the government to ensure that we can all play out part to adopt and prosper from Britain’s changing high street.”
Ian Payne MBE, chairman of Stonegate Pub Company said: “Pubs are the heart and soul of our high streets and play an important role in our social fabric and local economies. Rising businesses rates combined with the one of the highest rates of beer duty across Europe is leading to intolerable pressures on the sector.”