The membership of the government's new hospitality council has been criticised for lacking in small business representation.
It was announced that industry heavyweights including Home Grown Hotels chair Robin Hutson, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, WSH chair Alastair Storey and Mowgli founder Nisha Katona had been appointed to support the delivery of the government's hospitality strategy.
However, the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) said it was "deeply disappointed" at the council's lack of diversity and representation for small businesses among council members, and said membership was "overwhelmingly focused on big, corporate chains, with little regard for the huge variety of cuisines, ethnically diverse entrepreneurs and independent business owners who make up the sector beyond London".
The BTC said it had written to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy twice to make the case for small businesses needing greater representation on the council, but ministers and officials failed to reply on both occasions.
The takeaway sector contributed £7.7b to the UK economy during 2020 and more than 70% of takeaways employ fewer than 10 staff.
Andrew Crook, vice chair of the BTC, which represents independent restaurant and takeaway owners, including trade associations such as the National Federation of Fish Friers and the Bangladeshi Caterers Association, said: "The government are clearly not interested in the views and experiences of small, independent businesses. This council is London-centric, big-business focused and seems to have been put together with very little consideration for the hundreds of thousands of hard-working, independent businesses who fought to survive the pandemic and served their communities throughout."
Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said that although he was pleased the government was taking the sector seriously and recognising its economic contribution to the country, he would also have liked to see more independent venues represented.
"Big, city centre chains are the media face of the sector, however it is the independent, family-run pubs and restaurants which are the true backbone of this industry and they are the operators who have faced the most difficulty during this pandemic," he said.
"I know many of the representatives who have been selected for this council have publicly criticised the government's handling of the crisis and its lack of support for the hospitality sector over the past 18 months. I hope that, given they are now working alongside the very same ministers they were once criticising, that their calls for improvements and change continue and that the sector now begins to receive the recognition and urgent support it deserves during its recovery."
Photo: Alena Veasey/Shutterstock.com