Coronavirus: Rates cuts and accessible finance will help economic recovery

Help for tourism and hospitality among the 25 suggestions put forward by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery

A REDUCTION on non-domestic rates, improved access to finance, government stakes in hospitality businesses and keeping pressure on Westminster to reduce the VAT rate are among the steps the Scottish Government could take to help the economy recover in the wake of COVID-19.

The proposals were among 25 recommendations put forward in a report by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery.

The group, led by former RBS chief executive Benny Higgins, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to look into ways of tackling the various challenges the economy will face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among its recommendations were a “targeted reduction in business rates” for the tourism and hospitality sectors, working with the banks to ensure there is access to finance for businesses and pressuring Westminster to reduce the VAT rate.

The group also suggested the Scottish Government could take ownership stakes in companies at risk due to the pandemic.

Other suggestions included: a “collaborative partnership” between the Scottish Government and the business community; a review of planning and regulatory practices at Scottish Government and local authority levels to “accelerate projects”; and the launch of a Scottish Jobs Guarantee Scheme to protect employment for 16 to 25 year-olds.

Launching the report, Higgins said that Scotland “faces an economic challenge of monumental scale”.

“If we do not intervene radically to transform our economy, inequalities will drastically widen with long-term scarring for communities across the country, and for our young people in particular,” said Higgins.

“This cannot be allowed to happen.

“The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery has worked at great speed over the past two months, engaging extensively with businesses and with wider civic society to understand the challenges that we face, but crucially to curate a set of recommendations that emphasise the immediate need to protect and create jobs, reduce inequalities by building a green and technology-led recovery, and make Scotland an attractive place to do business.

“To create a robust, resilient wellbeing economy, the public and private sector must now build a new partnership to prioritise and deliver bold action. And they must do so with purpose and urgency.”

The full report can be viewed here.