Protecting the jobs that maintain the social fabric of the UK

In the last couple of days you might have seen a venue that you love lit up with red light. You might have seen the #weareevents hashtag floating around twitter, or pictures from socially distanced protests held by hospitality workers. They stand in protest against the lack of support the hospitality industry has received in the face of the continued social restrictions aimed at preventing the coronavirus outbreak.

I understand that for many people, there might be a feeling of “so what?” Job losses have been huge across an economy decimated by more than six months of restrictions of every day life. Although life has somewhat returned to normal after the lockdown of April, restrictions remain in place preventing much social interaction. Furthermore, a quarter of the country’s population iacs living under further extended restrictions as infection rates have spiked in areas around the country.

It’s fair to say that social restrictions have decimated the hospitality industry. Restrictions have made it almost impossible for hospitality workers to work and for hospitality businesses to thrive.

Hospitality is an essential part of the social fabric of the country.

We’re there to celebrate the best parts of life; the union of two people in love in front of those that love them, the joy of a new member of the family and the celebration of achievements. We’re there for the sad parts of life too; the remembrance of those who have gone and the sorrow of those who have been left behind.

We’re also the grease that keeps the cogs of industry turning. We help run the exhibitions that introduce businesses to new suppliers, customers and partners. We help run the conferences that encourage the exchange of ideas and creativity. We help give people the space to express their art and their passion.

Hospitality is worth £84bn to the UK economy
Hospitality is worth £84bn to the UK economy

In monetary terms, the hospitality industry is worth £84billion to the UK economy. Government statistics showed that 2.3million people worked in hospitality in 2016 — nearly 10% of everyone in employment.

And yet, when Shadow Business and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband raised the question of support for the hospitality industry in Parliament, he was met with a response that not every job could be protected, and that we would be supported by the welfare state or retraining for “better jobs”.

That “better jobs” remark is nothing but a kick in the teeth for the many experienced and highly qualified people who have worked tirelessly to build profitable and viable businesses in the hospitality industry. It’s effectively telling one in ten workers out there that their jobs aren’t worthwhile and the government doesn’t see their jobs as worth saving.

If social restrictions are needed to remain in place, then something needs to be done to ensure that there are jobs and companies on the other side of this pandemic. If things are to return to normal, then it’s imperative that a sector like Hospitality is given the support it needs.

The alternative is an economic wasteland with huge numbers of new benefits claimaints — and fewer people with the skills needed to put on the events and exhibitions to help other businesses grow again.