Calls for incoming First Minister to work with hospitality industry

HOSPITALITY trade groups have called on the incoming first minister, Humza Yousaf, to work with the industry and recognise the many challenges currently facing the sector.

Yousaf was named as the new leader of the SNP on Monday 27th March, after beating leadership rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in a contest for party member votes.

He will now face a vote in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (today), which he is expected to win, before being named as first minister.

Congratulating Mr Yousaf on winning the leadership contest Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said he hoped to “work with [Yousaf’s] new cabinet, officials and MSPs to solve the many ongoing problems and challenges facing the licensed trade as it recovers from the pandemic, deals with the fallout of Brexit, and navigates unprecedented levels of bureaucracy and misplaced legislation that is hampering business growth”.

Wilkinson said the sector has been “weighed down by ill-thought-through legislation at a time when they are still recovering from the pandemic, dealing with severe staff shortages and struggling with the realities of spiralling cost-of-living issues and rising costs of doing business” and said there needs to be “an urgent reset in the relationship between the Scottish Government and the business community”.

“We urge Mr Yousaf to pause the deposit return scheme (DRS) until a more business-friendly solution can be found for those smaller businesses that will have to deal with the time-consuming bureaucracy and unnecessary layers of administration,” said Wilkinson.

“In addition, we would seek dialogue at the earliest opportunity to discuss the proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising sponsorship which will impact on many everyday aspects of pub life.”

A spokesperson for the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland said that group also “look forward to working closely with the new leadership team over the coming months”.

“It is important that the first minister quickly recognises the immediate economic and policy challenges that businesses face, and commits to working with the night time economy and the hospitality industry to develop an effective roadmap on both timing and structuring of impending policies such as DRS, Non Domestic Rates reform and on the wider economic recovery,” they said.