Scottish Government u-turns on nightclubs fund

Hyslop said grants will now be available to all clubs, whether they traded as bars or not

THE Scottish Government has u-turned on its nightclub support fund, saying grants will be available to all clubs regardless of whether they have traded as bars in the interim or not.

On Tuesday (October 27), the Scottish Government announced new one-off grants of up to £50,000 for nightclubs that have been closed since March – but only if they had not subsequently traded as bars, saying premises “will not be eligible if they have opened at all since March – for example by changing their licence to open as a pub”.

When contacted by SLTN to ask what support would be available for clubs which had traded as bars, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We recognise that some premises will not be eligible as they have opened since March – for example by changing their licence to open as a pub – and we are continuing to discuss this with the sector.”

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing today (October 30), economy secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “We are extending the eligibility criteria for the support for nightclubs announced earlier this week to provide all nightclubs within the agreed definition with full funding regardless of whether they adapted their premises and opened in a limited way for any period.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland welcomed the move.

Mike Grieve, chair of the NTIA Scotland, said: “NTIA Scotland is very grateful to the Scottish Government and to business minister Jamie Hepburn in particular for listening to our concerns and taking action so swiftly to adapt the guidance regarding eligibility for the COVID-19 Contingency Fund.

“A number of nightclub businesses in Scotland were set to miss out on this important emergency fund because they had tried to repurpose their venues to protect jobs, despite the fact that they were losing money in doing so, and had then been forced to close again by the most recent restrictions.

“We advocated directly to the minister that these businesses were unfairly missing out on funding and Scottish Government have quickly recognised that natural justice is better served by allowing them to apply for the COVID Contingency Fund and have adapted the application criteria accordingly.

“We also very much welcome the commitment from Scottish Government  to ongoing dialogue with NTIA Scotland as this will be crucial to the survival of our beleaguered sector as we navigate the winter months.”

The grants, to be administered by local authorities, will be based on rateable value. Premises with a rateable value of £18,000 or under can apply for grants of £10,000, with values between £18,001 and £51,000 eligible for grants of £25,000 and premises with a rateable value above £51,001 eligible for £50,000. Businesses operating more than one premises will be able to claim one full grant and then grants of up to 75% on subsequent properties.