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Hospitality Industry reacts to Levelling Up bill announced in Queen's speech

Tillie Demetriou
11 May 2022

The hospitality industry has given a cautious welcome to the Levelling Up bill unveiled in the Queen's speech yesterday.

The bill, which was delivered by Prince Charles, aim to provide local leaders with the powers to revitalise town centres and extend al fresco dining. 

It was unveiled that pavement licensing red tape will be permanently scrapped, freeing up businesses to make use of outdoor spaces.

In response, Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality said: "Making pavement licences permanent is a really positive move. They were vital during the pandemic enabling businesses to trade, when they would otherwise be forced to close or restrict their opening hours. These outdoor spaces also benefit town and city centres, enabling them to enjoy the sort of outdoor experiences available elsewhere and helping local economies recover faster, contributing to levelling up. 

"Pavement licences also revealed the hospitality industry's ingenuity and creativity, and significant levels of investment which will now continue to return value. That same innovation must also ensure that this opportunity for venues pays due regard to accessibility so that all customers can benefit."

A proposal to get empty premises back into use was also announced. According to the British Retail Consortium, one in seven shop fronts are currently empty across the country.

Kate Nicholls added: "Proposals to get empty premises back into use – if properly considered and scrutinised – can make a huge difference in rejuvenating empty properties and, in turn, reviving high streets in our towns and cities. Hospitality can make a massive contribution to recovery and levelling up, and it's vital to the health of high streets that we reduce the number of shuttered properties that could otherwise be trading and generating jobs, revenue and tax receipts."

Hospitality businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many forced to close their doors for extended periods of time. The new legislation could help to breathe new life into struggling high streets.