Hospitality Industry Reacts to Election Results: A Call for Immediate Action


In the wake of the labour landslide in yesterday’s general election, and the SNP’s fall from grace, the hospitality industry is rallying for immediate and decisive action from the newly elected Labour government, and its hoped that the SNP will address its agenda in Scotland now too.

Leaders from various sectors within the industry have expressed a unified call for policy changes that address their most pressing challenges. This reaction comes with a mixture of anticipation and urgency as hospitality businesses face increased operational costs, a potential skills gap, and a need for comprehensive support to sustain and grow their operations.

The Scottish tourism and hospitality sectors have unique challenges and are calling for specific attention from both the UK and Scottish governments. Marc Crothall MBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance  (STA), said, “The STA considers this a pivotal moment, with an opportunity to reset relations between Holyrood and Westminster, further strengthening collaboration as we collectively work to support Scotland in its mission to become a leader in 21st-century tourism.”

He continued, “Labour’s manifesto commitment to reform the Scotland Office to champion Scotland at home and abroad under ‘Brand Scotland’ is particularly welcomed.”

The issue of attracting and retaining tourism and hospitality workers in rural and island communities is another critical area where the STA sees potential for significant impact. Said Crothall,  “We’re also encouraged to hear support from the Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, Jackie Baillie, for a ‘Scottish visa’ that takes into consideration the country’s unique geography and circumstances, particularly in our rural and island communities that year-on-year struggle to attract and retain tourism and hospitality workers. We have long championed a Scottish visa and will be looking to the new UK Government to make this a priority,” Crothall said.

Stephen Montgomery, Director and Spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said, “We congratulate Sir Keir Starmer on his win in the General Election, and on taking the position of Prime Minister.

“We would now encourage Sir Kier Starmer to immediately start putting in place the promises made in the Labour Manifesto, and bring forward his party plans for Brand Scotland, which hospitality will play a major role in.

“Immediate concerns are around issues such as VAT, and rates parity for hospitality.  We would also welcome discussions on a working visa for hospitality workers to help labour shortages. Further discussions are required on the ongoing concerns on the legislation on Tronc due to come into effect in October.

“The Scottish Hospitality Group have always had a good working relationship with Scottish and UK Labour, and we look forward to working further with Anas Sarwar and his team, to promote hospitality, and to help bring effect positive change to policies which will allow the sector to grow.”

Michael Grieve, Chair of NTIA Scotland, said, “As we welcome the new Labour Government to Westminster and look forward to working constructively together to further the nighttime economy across the UK, we call upon the Scottish Government to recognise how damaged Scotland’s Night Time Economy has been relative to the rest of the UK.

“Irrespective of the dissatisfaction with the UK government and the collapse in Conservative support at this election, it is clear that a swing from SNP to Labour of similar proportions in Scotland represents a sea change in public opinion. Scottish Government must now take stock and bring forward radical and innovative policies to grow local economies, tackle the demise of our town and city centres and start to rebuild business confidence across the country.”

“The refusal by the Scottish Government to pass on the rates relief enjoyed in England and Wales over the last 2 years, which could and should have provided a lifeline to Scotland’s beleaguered independent hospitality and nightlife sector, continues to present an existential threat to business north of the border. The lack of support has left our latenight and cultural sectors particularly vulnerable, and it is imperative that the current Scottish Government takes decisive action to rectify this catastrophic oversight and support our recovery efforts.”

One of the central themes across all comments is the urgent need to replace the business rates system and reform the Apprenticeship Levy. These measures are seen as crucial for levelling the playing field between high-street businesses and online giants and fostering a skilled workforce.

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, emphasised the importance of swift action and said, “We look forward to working with the new Labour Government, which during the campaign has clearly recognised hospitality’s role serving Britain and creating places where people want to live, work and invest. We now need to see this followed up with action in the first 100 days.

“Delivering on manifesto commitments to replace business rates and reform the Apprenticeship Levy would be a clear sign that the Government backs hospitality as the central pillar of the everyday economy.”

Addressing Business Rates and VAT Reduction

The call for replacing the business rates system is echoed by Saxon Moseley, partner and head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK He said,  “There are three quick wins that the new government could deliver to support the hospitality industry now. Firstly, replacing the business rates system to alleviate the biggest burden for hospitality businesses, and stimulate growth.

“Second, reduce the threshold for visas within hospitality roles to close the skills gap and help recruitment for key jobs such as experienced chefs which the industry is currently lacking. Thirdly, cut VAT on food and drink sales to help businesses who have seen margins eroded in recent years.”

Potential Wage Increases

A significant concern for the hospitality industry is the potential increase in wage costs due to Labour’s pledge to remove age thresholds and increase the national minimum wage rates to consider the cost of living. Saxon Moseley, at RSM UK, highlighted this issue, saying, “The result could be a whopping increase in wages of over 50% for workers aged 18-20 in April 2025; and an increase of almost 15% in those aged 21 and over, which will acutely hit the hospitality sector and its staff. In addition, if planned changes to zero-hours contracts come into play, operators will have less flexibility and may have to draw on more expensive agency staff to cover illness, holidays and peak periods.”

Skills and Workforce Development

Labour’s commitment to reform the Apprenticeship Levy and address the skills gap is particularly significant for the hospitality sector. With the pledge to create a Growth and Skills Levy, the industry hopes to see a more effective system that supports the development of a skilled workforce essential for its growth.  Nicholls concludes, “Hospitality, with its presence in every constituency, can act as a powerhouse for driving economic growth, creating new jobs and regenerating our towns and cities.”

The industry leaders’ unified voice sends a clear message to the new government: the hospitality sector is ready to collaborate for meaningful change, but immediate and concrete actions are necessary to ensure a thriving and sustainable future.


Picture: Labour Party