Scotland’s hospitality sector is still desperately seeking Shona

AS THE crucial Scottish Budget approaches, the Scottish Hospitality Group has issued a public challenge to ScotGov Finance Secretary and Deputy First Minister, Shona Robison, to meet face-to-face with owners of Scottish hospitality businesses.

The SHG said that it had written on two occasions to the Deputy First Minister to invite her to meet with hospitality owners – and received no response.

Industry bodies are campaigning for ScotGov to use its December Budget to provide emergency support for the hospitality industry, and a new long-term deal to support the sector going forward, as it tries to recover from the double economic punch of Covid-19 and rising energy prices and inflation.

Key asks are an emergency 75% business rates relief to match the support that hospitality businesses in England & Wales have received over the last year, and the creation of a new hospitality category for business rates, which would recognise the unique challenges faced by the sector.

However, despite attending roundtables with other groups, it is understood that Ms Robison has not met with any major body representing the Scottish hospitality industry.

SHG director Stephen Montgomery, said: “Our hospitality industry – our pubs, bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels – makes a vital contribution to Scotland’s economy and they are embedded in the heart of our communities.

“But the hospitality industry faces a crisis and we can’t go on like this. In our hour of need, it is extremely disappointing that Shona Robison can’t find the time to meet with hospitality businesses to listen to what we have to say. We are willing to meet with her any time and in any place, and we hope she will finally accept our invitation.

“We need to back our hospitality industry to survive and thrive, and a fairer deal on business rates would be one step the Government can take in the Budget to give our hospitality industry a fighting chance,” said Montgomery “If it can be done for hospitality businesses in England, then it can be done for Scottish hospitality too.

“The Scottish Government claims it wants a new relationship with the business community. It’s time to put their money where their mouth is.”