It has been confirmed business minister Paul Scully will meet with petitioners calling for a minister for hospitality.
The meeting with the minister for small business, consumers and labour markets was agreed after chair of the petitions committee, Catherine McKinnell, wrote to the prime minister urging him to engage with the hospitality sector after raising the issue at the latest session of the liaison committee.
A debate on this petition, which was signed by more than 208,000 people, was held on 11 January, where members across the House called for a dedicated minister for the sector. Scully is now expected to meet with petitioners, including Claire Bosi, editor of Chef & Restaurant magazine.
McKinnell said: "While I welcome the prime minister's decision to agree to our call for the government to meet with petitioners and hear their concerns about the need for greater support for the hospitality sector, I hope that the prime minister himself will consider their request that he creates a minister for hospitality to oversee government delivery for this crucial diverse sector.
"Although the government has provided a range of support to the hospitality industry throughout this pandemic, there are still great challenges ahead and a coordinated approach on this issue is vital at this critical time.
"The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, and remains vulnerable. Thousands of businesses are struggling and unclear about what lies ahead in the coming months, it is essential there is a focused voice within government to represent the hospitality sector to ensure its place as a key driver of economic and cultural growth in every community."
Last month, the petitions committee wrote a letter to the prime minister highlighting that hospitality is one of the few industries which exists in all parts of the country, covering the arts, culture and tourism. It notes that the sector will play a crucial role in the recovery from the Covid-19 recession, particularly in providing jobs for young people.
Although the letter recognised that there is gratitude for the support the government has already given through measures such as the Job Retention Scheme, it highlighted the lack of a long-term strategy for the hospitality industry and urged the government develop a more coordinated approach to the hospitality industry.