Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP gave CGA’s Big Peach 2020 Digital Experience a politician’s take on the industry’s challenges. Here’s what she had to say to UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls about the big issues.
On hospitality’s response to the crisis
“It’s been incredible to see how adaptable and flexible businesses in hospitality have been… they’ve been rising to the challenges in very difficult circumstances,” Dodds said. “I’m proud of what the sector’s achieved. It’s underlined the contribution of hospitality to the UK economy as a whole—something politicians too often haven’t been aware of.” She also admired how restaurants and pubs had supported local communities. “The way businesses have shown their community connections have been incredible.”
Talks between government and industry groups like UKHospitality have been crucial in protecting businesses, Dodds said. “It’s really important that the kind of conversations that occurred at the beginning of the crisis continue. Policy has been at its most effective where there has been that close engagement, and where government ministers have been able to hear from the sector.”
On lockdown exit strategies
“We need to do absolutely everything we can to avoid the continuation of the existing restrictions,” said Dodds. “We need to sort out the tier system so it’s much clearer, and make the economic support understandable and consistent for different areas.” A better Test and Trace scheme and an efficient rollout of vaccines when available would both help, she added. “The more people we can get vaccinated… the sooner we can start to get things back to normal again.”
On hospitality’s contribution to the high street
“The role of hospitality in ensuring that high streets are vibrant, economic sectors is absolutely critical,” Dodds said. She called for more clarity on the discretionary support available from local authorities, better planning to ensure the right mix of retail, residential and leisure in town centres, and a deepening and acceleration of a review into the business rates regime. “We need a more strategic focus on high streets as places where people can have fun as well as shop.”
On other support
Dodds welcomed government plans to help businesses via upskilling and targeted support for coastal communities, and sympathized with calls for hospitality’s VAT cut on food to be made permanent. “There are revenue implications with some of these things continuing… but we’re looking at things very carefully and are keen to do what we can to make sure hospitality can have a bright future in the UK.”
You can watch Kate Nicholls’ full conversation with Anneliese Dodds at the Big Peach 2020 Digital Experience here.