TRADE groups have welcomed the announcement of further financial support for businesses – but cautioned that more will be needed if the sector is to recover.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes yesterday (9th December) announced £185 million in support for Scottish businesses, which included £60m for tourism businesses and £30m in one-off payments to hospitality businesses. Details on eligibility and application processes will be announced in the coming weeks.
UK Hospitality executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said the money “will provide much-needed support for businesses that are being seriously hard-pressed” but added that the industry requires “longer-term action”.
“We will need to ensure that support is delivered where it is needed most,” said Macleod.
“Beyond that, if we expect to see hospitality businesses trade themselves out of trouble and back into a position to begin rebuilding the economy, we will need longer term action.
“The business rates holiday for the sector must be extended along with the VAT cut. The Scottish Government must also make sure that it provides the resources to enable the recommendations of the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce to be implemented in full.”
Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said the one-off payments of £2000 or £3000 depending on rateable value “will at least help pay some of the recent extra lockdown costs incurred by many of Scotland’s pubs and bars” but argued that the hospitality sector should receive greater support than other industries less affected by the pandemic.
“We accept that all businesses need support but surely any financial support should be directed to those hardest hit and in most need,” said Wilkinson.
“The Scottish Government must therefore provide realistic financial compensation if the sector and the staff that it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and be part Scotland’s economic recovery.”
The Federation of Small Businesses urged the Scottish Government to “deliver help for local businesses at the same pace as they implement restrictions on the economy”.
And the group’s Scotland policy chair, Andrew McRae, called on Scottish ministers to introduce a high street voucher scheme using money held back for contingencies.
“Despite the Christmas lights, many small businesses on local high streets aren’t feeling very festive,” said McRae.
“While yesterday’s changes offered some firms a window of opportunity, there’s no point denying that this December is going to be difficult for many. That’s why the Scottish Government should set the wheels in motion to deliver a high street voucher for every household to inject real spending power into our local economies when it is safe to do so.”