The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has welcomed this afternoon’s announcement by Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, that the licensed trade and hospitality businesses will continue to benefit from business rates relief.
Whilst recognising that Scottish businesses have benefitted more in rates relief than any other country within the UK over the last two years, the announcement of 50% rates relief for the first three months of the 2022/23 financial year and capped at £27,500 per ratepayer does not go far enough to ensure that businesses across the sector, from pubs, bars and nightclubs to restaurants and coffee shops, have a fighting chance to continue their long recovery from the pandemic, the SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) said.
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, said:-
Just when hospitality businesses were beginning to get back on their feet along comes the Omicron variant to throw a spanner in the works so the news in today’s Scottish Budget is a welcome step towards aiding our recovery, but more targeted support will be needed.
People are understandably nervous about going out and about pre-Christmas and despite the efforts of the sector to provide a controlled and one of the safest environment settings possible, this has resulted in a raft of cancellations of festive drinks, lunches and nights out so the gains that many were hoping for during this key trading period will not be what businesses were hoping for and indeed needed for their survival.
However, as we have previously pointed out, there is an urgent need for a change to the current system of business rates as it is clear that the current system penalises hospitality businesses and is no longer fit for purpose in a world of online sales and the advantages that some sectors, supermarkets for example, have enjoyed during the lockdowns and periods of restricted opening for hospitality.”