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The hospitality industry is crucial in reviving Britain's high streets

Britain’s high streets are at a crisis point. A myriad of factors – including lack of investment, poor planning and the convenience of online shopping – have resulted in swathes of closures up and down the country, leaving our high streets in desperate need of innovation and redevelopment.

The hospitality industry, comprised of the pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants that already make up the fabric of our communities, is well placed to play a vital role in bringing new life to high streets up and down the country. Such businesses, alongside wider sector businesses such as hotels, visitor attractions, indoor leisure and caterers, are essential in creating and developing areas in which people want to live, work and invest.

Recently, Parliament’s Built Environment Committee launched its High Streets in Towns and Cities inquiry, to understand how high streets can be regenerated and become more resilient and attractive. Given the shift in working and shopping patterns post-pandemic, it will look at how high streets could adapt and remain successful in the future.

It's clear that hospitality and the high street have a symbiotic relationship. At their heart, they both provide vital services to their local communities – whether that’s a pub or restaurant serving as a meeting place for friends and family to celebrate, reconnect and socialise, or a hotel facilitating tourists and visitors from out of town.

It's clear that hospitality and the high street have a symbiotic relationship. Quote

The industry already plays a significant role in regenerating town centres and has proved just how much it can do to reinvigorate disused sites – such as turning closed-down banks into bustling restaurants, or empty office space into competitive socialising venues – working closely with local authorities to provide essential services for communities.

Hospitality is a vast and varied sector and, as a result, we are a significant contributor to national and local economies. Hospitality is the third biggest private sector employer in the UK, accounting for 3.5m jobs and is the creator of 1 in 5 new jobs. Furthermore, the industry generates more than £93bn to the UK economy every year, and a further £121bn indirectly, and this is set to grow by 6% year-on-year throughout the next Parliament.

However, we can only continue to do this with the right infrastructure and support. We therefore continue to urge the Government to review the current business rates system that is unfairly stacked against small businesses. We also ask that VAT is brought down to a more competitive rate in line with other European countries, and that National Insurance contributions for the sector are reduced in order to help manage businesses’ wage bills, which now make up on average one third of business costs for the typical hospitality business in the UK.

With the right support this can be turbocharged and we will be able to play an even more major role in bringing new life to Britain’s high streets, serving up world-class experiences, job creation and community wellbeing.

Kate Nicholls Chief Executive UK Hospitality

Kate Nicholls OBE is the CEO of Hospitality UK and Co-Chair of the London Tourism Board.

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