Scottish Government Finance Minister announces new £185 million Covid-19 support package targeted at sectors in need. SLTA slams support as a Christmas Cracker Joke.
Businesses across Scotland will benefit from a new £185 million package of targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) support.
The announcement follows discussions with business groups and sees a wide range of sectors benefiting, from taxi drivers and arts venues to travel agents and hospitality.
In addition, there will be additional one-off payments to hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand. These will be of £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.
The package was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who also said she had written to the Treasury calling for Scotland to receive its share of rates relief reimbursed by supermarkets “to ensure this is spent on those areas hardest hit as part of Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19”.
Ms Forbes said:
Today I am pleased to confirm an allocation of £185 million for new and additional business support in the new year. We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.
We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8 million for brewers.
We will give £1.5 million to travelling show people ineligible for other support, while a new £19 million fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.
I can also announce that further support of £60 million will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.
I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our COVID-19 support offer within the available resources.”
Specific support detailed in today’s announcement includes:
- £5 million for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers
- one-off grants totalling £15 million for mobile close contact services, such as hairdressers
- a £19 million fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers
- £5 million for travel agents
- almost £6 million for coach companies and tour operators
- £1.5 million for visitor attractions
More detail on the package will be announced in the coming days and businesses can expect to apply for all the new grant schemes in January.
Responding to the announcement the SLTA said:-
Today’s announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is an insult to an industry sector which she herself acknowledged as a sector hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has said.
The announcement of additional one-off payments of either £2,000 or £3,000 – dependent on rateable values – to hospitality businesses in January to ‘help’ them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand is as bad as hearing a Christmas cracker joke.
The industry keeps being told by Government that our concerns are being listened to but this announcement confirms the Government needs to get a serious grip on the reality of the cataclysmic devastation facing the licensed hospitality sector and those that it employs.
The Finance Secretary’s ‘Christmas gift’ of £2,000 or £3,000, although we will have to wait until January to get it, will at least help pay some of the recent extra lockdown costs incurred by many of Scotland’s pubs and bars – so the one-off grant has gone even before we get it.
The announcement of a £60 million fund for the tourism sector, the details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry, will we hope include those organisations at the coalface of representing the licensed hospitality sector which is a major contributor to Scotland’s overall tourism industry.
Some sectors supported by this new package have done better than the licensed hospitality industry and this only raises the question of why there is such disproportionality between the level of support given and the size of the sector needing financial aid. We accept that all businesses need support but surely any financial support should be directed to those hardest hit and in most need.
The Scottish Government must therefore provide realistic financial compensation if the sector and the staff that it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and be part Scotland’s economic recovery.”