It’s time to give the trade a break

Comment By Gillian McKenzie
By Gillian McKenzie

IS it just me or does the build up to next week’s general election seem to have rumbled on for longer than usual?

Perhaps it’s because it’s hot on the heels of last September’s referendum; perhaps it’s down to the plentiful TV debates and leader interviews.

Whatever the reasons for the seemingly lengthy lead-in, political parties are now on the home straight. And with just a week to go until polling day, the claims and counter claims, pledges and promises are coming thick and fast.

It goes without saying that the ‘big four’ have all vowed to support small businesses in the licensed trade. Each has outlined its stance on everything from the national minimum wage, living wage and zero hours contracts to national insurance, duty and VAT.

Making promises ahead of an election is one thing; what happens afterwards is often quite another.

Whatever the outcome, politicians at Westminster, and Holyrood, must consider the significance of Scotland’s licensed trade to the country – and  the full implications on businesses of any future regulation.

In an SLTA survey on the impact of the lower drink drive limit, 56% of licensees said legislation was the single biggest threat to their business – a figure said to be nearly four times higher than any other threat. It’s no wonder.

In recent years the trade has been bombarded with a huge volume of legislation and regulations. And it keeps on coming.

It’s time to give operators a break and let them get on with running businesses, whose tremendous value and contribution to Scotland should not be underestimated.