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Hospitality Council comes under fire for lack of diversity

The newly-launched Hospitality Sector Council, made up of industry experts to help England’s pubs, restaurants and cafés to thrive post-pandemic, has been criticised for its lack of diversity and representation for small businesses.

The Council and its members were unveiled on 29 September, with a statement from business minister Paul Scully saying: “With the launch of this council, we’re taking the next step in the journey to build back better from the pandemic by unveiling the experts who’ll be driving the reopening, recovery and resilience of the sector. It’s a real ‘Avengers Assemble’ moment for the industry.”

The Council is co-chaired by Paul Scully and hospitality entrepreneur and chair of Prezzo Karen Jones. Other council members include UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, Emma McClarkin of the British Beer and Pub Association, Nando’s UK & Ireland chief executive Colin Hill, Greene King chief executive Nick MacKenzie, Starbucks UK general manager Alex Rayner and Mowgli street food founder Nisha Katona.

The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) (whose members include Curry Life magazine and the Bangladeshi Caterers Association) says that the nation’s takeaways have been ‘snubbed by the Hospitality Council Appointments’. It says it is ‘deeply disappointed to see the lack of diversity and representation for small businesses among the Hospitality Council members. The Council membership is overwhelmingly focused on big, corporate chains, with little regard for the huge variety of cuisines, ethnically diverse entrepreneurs and independent business owners who make up the sector beyond London.’

Andrew Crook, vice chair of the BTC added: “The government is clearly not interested in the views and experiences of small, independent businesses. This Council is London-centric, big-business focused and seems to have been put together with very little consideration for the hundreds of thousands of hard-working, independent businesses who fought to survive the pandemic and served their communities throughout.”

Syed Nahas Pasha, editor-in-chief of Curry Life magazine said: “Paul Scully has been known as the ‘Minister of Curry’ for many years, so we are devastated by his failure to serve the curry industry’s interests and those of thousands of small, independent curry houses, at this critical time. We are looking to open a dialogue with the Minister and look forward to receiving his feedback.”

The BTC says the takeaway sector contributed £7.7 billion in value to the UK economy during 2020. Small businesses form the backbone of the industry, with over 70% of takeaways employing fewer than 10 staff.

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