Coronavirus: Scottish government aid welcomed, but salary support required

TRADE groups have welcomed the announcement of a £2.2 billion support package for Scottish businesses, but said more help is required to sustain jobs in the hospitality industry.

Scotland’s economic secretary, Fiona Hyslop, announced a raft of measures on March 18 to help support businesses in Scotland as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Steps to go live from April 1 include extending the UK government’s 12-month non-domestic rates relief to hospitality businesses across Scotland – more information just released here; freezing the poundage rate next year; £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure or retail properties with rateable values between £18,000 and £51,000; halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill, which will push back the introduction of the tourist tax; £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme; and urging local authorities to relax planning rules, which will allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways.

Groups including the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), Federation of Small Businesses and UK Hospitality welcomed the announcement, with STA chief executive, Marc Crothall, saying the group “is reassured that the Scottish Government fully appreciates all aspects of the unfolding crisis across Scotland’s tourism industry and is doing everything within its power to protect businesses and staff within the sector”.

But UK Hospitality’s executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said that although Hyslop’s announcement was “a helpful move”, both Scottish and UK governments need to do more.

“Just like in other parts of the UK, this support needs to be followed by additional measures to cover wage costs – which we hope the Scottish Government will be pushing for,” said Macleod.

“This needs to happen right away to stop businesses from closing and to keep people in jobs. If we don’t get it, then we are looking at widespread job losses and the potential for business failure.”