The hospitality sector is where we celebrate, mourn, catch up, hold work and community events, raise money for good causes, or just grab a bite when there is no time to cook or when we are travelling. Hounslow borough has 630 hospitality sector businesses—restaurants and cafés, pubs and bars, hotels and many more. Some have been able to open for some of the pandemic, but others—particularly wet-led pubs, wedding caterers, large events venues and party organisers—have been completely closed for the majority of the time. The pandemic has had a huge impact on the whole sector, and many businesses may not reopen.
The pandemic and the uncertain future falls hard on the low-paid, who dominate the hospitality sector, as do the under-25s. Hospitality workers are more likely to have lost their jobs than have been furloughed, so they make up a significant proportion of the skyrocketing number of universal credit claims—there are more than 17,000 claimants in my constituency. Behind each one of our hospitality businesses are many others in the supply chain: from companies that provide towels and cleaning to taxis, musicians, event organisers, wholesale food suppliers and many more—businesses that have missed out on most of the covid relief schemes.
Until a year ago, the hotels in Hounslow and west London, being close to Heathrow, were full to the brim. However, the huge drop in international travel and the travel and tourism sector has had a huge impact, including for a business in Isleworth that makes airline food and has written to me. Again, I urge the Government to provide aviation communities such as Hounslow with the support that they desperately need.
Across the whole hospitality sector we are seeing great, viable businesses that are on the brink or have gone under because of the lack of timely and adequate support. I do wonder whether anyone in the Government has ever run a business anything like the ones that Members are concerned about.
By contrast, I pay tribute to the work done by Hounslow Council to support businesses in the hospitality sector. The council has developed a hospitality reopening safely toolkit; provided face-to-face business support to help with the reviewing and adaptation of premises; run recover and regrow courses online, which have built resilience; and helped to showcase the Shop Safe, Shop Local campaign, which has encouraged people to support our amazing local independent businesses.
I hope the Government will promise to listen to those in the sector and give them a clear and long-term plan, as Mark Pawsey said. They should bring in many of the other elements described today by Members such as my hon. Friend Jeff Smith, so that we can move forward to what are hopefully better days for the sector.