In this first week of 2016, our top priority has been to offer support and advice to our members affected by the flooding in Northern England and Scotland. As the UK community of hospitality and tourism businesses, it is important that we stand alongside affected members and help to ensure a return to normal as effectively as possible.
It is also timely for our community to refocus on the risks, challenges and opportunities facing our whole membership in the year ahead. From a political standpoint, the BHA has its sights set on devolved assembly elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, local elections in London and other cities, and, of course, the forthcoming EU referendum.
Our mission is to ensure that all political administrations across the UK, as well as in Brussels, facilitate competitive advantage for our industry to grow and propel economic opportunities for the communities in which you operate. In March, BHA discussions with these administrations will be strengthened by updated economic analysis for each local authority from Oxford Economics. The active engagement of our regional committees and members as grassroots lobbyists, plus the 137 MPs who now champion the Cut Tourism VAT case in Parliament, will help ensure that our messages are heard loud and clear.
The National Living Wage - the single greatest challenge faced by our members, particularly SMEs, in a long time - could potentially re-engineer and restructure our industry. We will press the Treasury to reduce the impact by cutting Tourism VAT, lowering NI Contributions, delaying the Apprenticeship Levy, re-admitting hotels to the Enterprise Investment Scheme, and increasing the accommodation offset to the minimum wage. Employment legislation, obesity, health and safety regulation, tipping policies, taxation and the carbon reduction commitment are key priorities for 2016.
In addition to championing the expansion of aviation capacity and transport and broadband infrastructure, the BHA will progress lobbying on the anti-competitive behaviour of operators in the digital market, in particular to ban rate parity and ensure a level regulatory landscape for our members with the sharing economy.
Clarity of message is critical to lobbying success, as is a robust business case. However, policy reform also depends on the strength of our industry lobby. Unified communications and the active engagement of our members make a significant difference, so please let me know how you can help.
And to help members, we will be restructuring and refreshing our website to help you find the up to date information on issues. It will also make it easier to locate our straightforward advice that assists in turning confusing new regulations into practical operational guidance. Our new Industry Food Hygiene Guide will be issued in May with an interactive app allowing easy access in the workplace, and details of our new Primary Authority arrangement to help members facing problems with regulation will be published shortly.
We will also be adding to the offers for members secured from suppliers and demonstrating the significant savings that can save membership subscription costs in one go.
Finally, as our membership grows, we will strengthen the BHA's already strong influence on policy-makers. We will continue to report our progress in monthly messages and look forward to meeting and discussing further opportunities with many of you at our Hospitality and Tourism Summit on 27 June, if not before.