As UK moves to delay phase Scottish government urged to act now on financial assistance to the hospitality industry


In light of the mounting critical concerns about coronavirus, the Scottish government is being urged to act now to give financial assistance to Scotland’s hotels, bars and restaurants.

A leading economist was quoted in The Independent as saying, “Just as important as fighting the virus — if not more important — is vaccinating our economies against the incoming pandemic of panic. Human suffering can come in the form of illness and death. But it can also be experienced as not being able to pay the bills or losing your home.”

The UK government pledged £360m to the Scottish government to help fight the virus as part of its budget, the majority of which will go to the NHS, but £50m or so ringfenced for business relief. In response to being asked when they are going to announce  financial assistance measures, a Scottish Government spokesperson told DRAM, “We are monitoring the impacts on the Scottish economy very closely and will do all we can to support businesses, build economic resilience and stimulate growth, jobs and investment.”

The UK government also scrapped business rates for English and Welsh retail leisure and hospitality companies for the remainder of the year that have a rateable value of under £51,000.

We asked people in the trade for their views.

UKHospitality Executive Director in Scotland, Willie Macleod, welcomed the decisiveness of the moves of the UK government and urged the Scottish government to follow suit.

He said, “Business rates are devolved to Holyrood and some of the measures announced yesterday (for example, the specific relief for pubs, extension of retail relief to hospitality businesses and the cash bonus for small and rural businesses) are not presently applicable in Scotland.”

Caledonian Heritable Director Graeme Arnott, commented, “There’s nothing in place at the moment in terms of a plan for how we’re going to tackle this. This is a developing story that is developing by the minute and we are hoping that Scotland is going to stand up and be counted to receive the same relief measures as England and Wales. All we can do is use common sense and be as vigilant as possible.”

Said Gillian Kirkland, licensee at The Piper Whisky Bar in Glasgow, “I woke up this morning with a new sense as of urgency about the severity of coronavirus. I am very much hoping beyond hope that the business rates ‘holiday’ will be mirrored in Scotland because it applies to my business.”

CBI Scotland Director Tracey Black said, “The Scottish Government should take note of the Chancellor’s commitment on business rate reliefs to mitigate the impact of the Covid19 and consider how Scottish businesses can be supported in the near-term.”

A spokesperson for Ayrshire-based Buzzworks Holdings, commented, “The health and wellbeing of both our people and customers is Buzzworks top priority. It’s very much business as usual and we are welcoming guests to all of our venues while continuing to follow and monitor official guidance from the UK Government and Health Protection Scotland.”

Bobsie Mullen,co-owner of Glasgow’s Babbity Bowster and Rab Ha’s said, “I was gutted when I heard what the chancellor announced for Scotland with no similar follow-up announcement for the trade in Scotland. They should be helping us with rates anyway, so what better time to start than in these uncertain times. We run two hotels and the fact fewer people are travelling is extremely concerning to us.”

While AJ Mcmenemy, co-director of the Dundee-based Macmerry 300 pub group, told DRAM, “It’s difficult to say at this stage but I don’t believe that we’ll be closing any of our venues. We will continue to trade and do what we do best.”


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