Finance Minister announces non-domestic rates relief will be extended even further. Scottish Government likely to advise against booking Easter holidays “either overseas or within Scotland”.
Finance Minister announces non-domestic rates relief will be extended even further.
Retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined yesterday. It is one of a series of measures proposed by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.
The move builds on the three month rates relief extension announced in the Scottish Budget and will be taken forward provided the Scottish Government receives the funding already assumed from the UK Budget on 3 March, and that requisite funds are available to maintain existing support into 2021-22.
The Finance Minister said:-
When I presented our budget last month I guaranteed to extend non-domestic rates relief further if I was given the necessary resources. I can now deliver on that promise, providing the UK Budget in March delivers the funding we require. The other measures I am proposing today, including further support for hospitals, schools and local government and measures to tackle climate change, build on our priorities to ensure a robust recovery for our economy and public services.
This welcome additional consequential funding was confirmed to us yesterday and I wanted give early notice to parliament and provide clarity to businesses.
We are still in the throes of a national emergency and it is important Parliament works together to respond. I will continue to work with all parties to help deliver a budget for the nation fit for these times.”
The SLTA, which has been calling for an extension to the existing rates holiday, welcomed the decision and said the announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was a “weight off our collective shoulders”.
SLTA spokesman, Paul Waterson, said:-
Extending 100% rates relief for the next financial year gives pubs, hospitality and tourism a fighting chance when we do re-emerge from lockdown.
However, what we need now is for UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in his Budget on March 3rd, to keep VAT at 5% and also extend current furlough arrangements. While rates are generally the biggest fixed rate costs for the hospitality industry, we look forward to further concessions that will help businesses.”
Mr Waterson also said that the while SLTA welcomed today’s announcement, it was imperative that businesses had a clear route map for the easing of lockdown restrictions.
We look forward to hearing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for getting out of lockdown and, crucially, some dates – even if they are provisional.
The news that there is to be a £50 million package of support for Scotland’s town centres and more capital funding specifically for tourism infrastructure projects in local communities is also very good news.”
As previously reported by the SLTA these sectoral businesses will have to apply for this rates relief and the Government is currently working with councils to establish a very simple application form which should go live mid-March. The SLTA will provide further updates on this situation and will advise of the live date as soon as confirmed.
Scottish Government likely to advise against booking Easter holidays “either overseas or within Scotland”
The First Minister has announced details of the review of current lockdown restrictions, telling the Scottish Parliament that:-
Our room for manoeuvre remains very limited. Even a slight easing of restrictions could cause cases to start rising rapidly again.” and that “because of the new, more infectious variant, our exit from lockdown is likely to be even more cautious than it was last summer.”
The First Minister said that the Scottish Government is currently preparing a revised strategic framework, which will set out in more detail when and how we might gradually emerge from lockdown and it is hoped that this will be published next week. The revised framework will aim to set out how the Government will use all the tools at its disposal – restrictions and advice, vaccination, test and protect, and travel restrictions to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to peoples everyday lives.
The First Minister also indicated that the Scottish Government is “likely to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland, as it is highly unlikely that we will have been able to fully open hotels or self-catering accommodation by then.” and added:-
For the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.”
The First Minister highlighted that the Scottish Government will be driven much more by data than dates.