The announcement by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to help the hospitality sector with a £100m support fund, following the slew of cancellations experienced by operators after Public Health Scotland advised deferring Christmas parties until another time which was then endorsed by the Scottish Government, led the sector to believe that the financial support announced was to be focused on those most directly affected by the negative messaging and most in need of “aid” – the licensed hospitality sector and the supply chain.
We believe that the funding of £66m to the hospitality sector announced yesterday also includes cafes and takeaways and even multi-national fast-food outlets, well over 2,500 premises who certainly have not been affected directly by the PHS messaging to defer Christmas parties in Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants.
It is utterly indefensible for businesses which have not experienced the decimation that has been caused to the licensed hospitality sector at this vital trading period to receive the same level of support funding as those hit hardest by the recent “tsunami” of cancellations.
How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets had cancellations for Christmas parties? How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets have seen business down 30% to 40% half way through Christmas and New Year? How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets have seen average losses of £65K per premises for December so far? In fact, most of these types of businesses, particularly multi-national fast-food outlets, have “benefitted” from the covid pandemic over the last two years.
Some independent operators within this sector may well need some support, but they were not specifically targeted with messaging that has crippled the licensed hospitality Industry.
We still await the final detail of how the £66m fund will be divided up for the hospitality sector, but potentially a lot of Government funding will be misdirected to those far less in need of support than the battered and bruised licensed hospitality sector.
And even worse, those who have benefitted from the covid pandemic may well be getting a “bonus” from the public purse.