Yorkshire leaders need to put hospitality at the heart of regeneration plans - Kate Nicholls

Most people recognise the vital role pubs play in our communities but few know how true this is of the wider hospitality industry too. Ours is a vast and varied sector – from cafés and restaurants to hotels, visitor attractions, indoor leisure and caterers – 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 3.5 million jobs and is the creator of one in five new jobs. The industry generates over £93bn for the UK economy every year, and a further £121bn indirectly. In Yorkshire and the Humber alone, the hospitality industry accounts for 4.2 per cent of regional economic value.

This is why, as we head to vote in local government and mayoral elections today, we are urging all the candidates to put hospitality at the core of local regeneration, development and economic growth plans.

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With the right mixture of measures from central and local governments, hospitality can help revive communities, drive employment and bolster economic growth all across the UK. Ours is not an industry without its challenges, however. Despite being traditionally resilient, businesses are currently grappling with the high costs of doing business, including sustained rises in energy bills, food and drink.

Habbibi restaurant opened in Leeds recently boosting the city's hospitality offer. PIC: James HardistyHabbibi restaurant opened in Leeds recently boosting the city's hospitality offer. PIC: James Hardisty
Habbibi restaurant opened in Leeds recently boosting the city's hospitality offer. PIC: James Hardisty

This has led to 3,000 hospitality venues permanently closing their doors in the last 12-months alone and, while macroeconomic issues are the responsibility of central government, in our communities it is local authorities that wield the power.

We want to continue to play a key role across Yorkshire and beyond, so we are urging local authority leaders and officials to consider and implement measures that will help hospitality businesses create communities in which people want to work, live and invest.

We know that a thriving hospitality sector can genuinely enrich people’s lives. For example, the vast array of jobs in the sector offer people of all ages and experience rewarding roles with swift progression and so we’d love to see hospitality jobs promoted through local channels, including information campaigns. On top of this, local authorities need to deliver more efficient, low-cost public transport systems to support businesses, employees, and the wider local population.

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We want to help create safe, vibrant places where people want to live and visit but in order to do this we need support from local authorities. One way of doing this would be to provide discretionary business rates relief to hospitality businesses in need; a commitment to ensuring the upcoming short-term lets registration scheme is delivered as intended and puts all accommodation businesses on a level playing field; we need a faster, more streamlined approach to planning applications, and fewer excessive regulations.

With the right approach we can work with communities to bring regeneration to our high streets but in order to achieve this we need local authorities to establish a pro-growth approach to licensing applications, a simplified food waste collection system, and to establish high street business forums that can input into local development plans.

As we have seen following previous economic crises and the pandemic, hospitality can play a major role in regional and national renewal. Given the right measures of support we can help serve as a catalyst for growth in every community across the country over the next decade.

Kate Nicholls is the chief executive of UKHospitality.

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