UKHospitality has launched a manifesto ahead of December's general election calling for a new government to deliver tax reliefs and a future migration policy that will unlock the sector's potential.
The industry body stressed the contribution hospitality already makes to the economy – 5% of gross domestic product, the third largest private sector employer and £40b paid each year in tax receipts – before detailing the crippling burden placed upon businesses through tax.
Launching the manifesto, named Hospitality: a Menu for Change, UKHospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "We need root and branch reform of business rates. Business rates are currently between 5% and 6% for most hospitality businesses and have grown ahead of inflation in the last two years in particular. This is the thing that has triggered more and more business failures and eroded profits with the average margin having shrunk by a third."
Concerns were also expressed about whether a future migration policy would be able to provide a workforce to meet the needs of a growing industry, that creates one in six new jobs. Nicholls stressed the need for a policy that reflected labour shortages rather than "arbitrary" numerical targets or simply skills. She also expressed concerns about reports of a policy that would require migrants to have secured a job before coming to the UK, saying it would be "crippling for the industry".
Nicholls continued to stress how hospitality was poised to the meet the aim set out by all major parties of rejuvenating "left behind" communities. She said: "Hospitality is unique as the only sector that touches all neighbourhoods and communities, and it can provide good quality local jobs in left behind communities.
"Our key message is work with us because hospitality is a natural rejuvenator and a natural equality employer."
UKHospitality has also echoed messages from the CBI Conference earlier this week stressing the need for a Brexit resolution that will provide businesses with the clarity to make future plans, saying this would be the "most helpful thing".
If Friday 13 December delivers a hung or minority parliament, spelling prolonged uncertainty she said business would need support, in the form of tax cuts to offset the hit to consumer confidence that could be expected to follow.
She added: "The biggest worry is protracted uncertainty that impacts investment and the perception of the UK internationally."
UKHospitality's manifesto has called on the next government to:
Guarantee the rights of EU citizens and ensure the smoothest possible trade with the EU on food and drink
Reform the apprenticeship levy and roll out T-levels
Invest in the Tourism Sector Deal to promote careers
Ensure a future immigration system works for the whole economy, at all skill levels, and includes a temporary route into work
Review business taxation to reduce the burden on property based businesses
Cut tourism VAT to 5%
Reduce excise duties for alcohol
Reduce employer National Insurance contributions
Support voluntary measures around calorie counts
Introduce registration system for short-term lets
Ban OTAs' ‘rate parity clauses
Introduce green sector deals
Review the relationship between commercial landlords and occupiers
Invest in nationwide transport and communication infrastructure
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