Coronavirus: Government urged to facilitate cash to pay staff costs as rates relief for 12 months and grants for hospitality businesses revealed


The government still needs to help hospitality businesses cover their wage bills despite a £2.2bn support package for Scottish businesses just announced by Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop (pictured).

UKHospitality, the trade body, welcomed the package but repeated its call for the UK Government and devolved bodies to urgently support businesses with salary payments to avoid widespread job losses and disruption to people’s lives.

UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said, “If we don’t get it, then we are looking at widespread job losses and the potential for business failure.”

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop in a statement to the Scottish Parliament has already outlined a £2.2bn support package which was also welcomed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance. It includes £1.9bn to support businesses, a 12-month business tax relief for properties in hospitality, grants of up to £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000 and £10,000 for businesses in small business rates relief and the rural business scheme and a move to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways.

But Willie Macleod urged, “Just like in other parts of the UK, this support needs to be followed by additional measures to cover wage costs – which we hope the Scottish Government will be pushing for. This needs to happen right away to stop businesses from closing and to keep people in jobs.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the STA said, “Urgent clarity around how businesses can access the support announced today will be key; this is being raised by all of our members, however, I am sure that our industry will take comfort from knowing that the gravity of what is happening on a daily basis is fully understood and that support is coming.  The process for accessing and distributing support must be robust and seamless.”

He also revealed that the STA was still pushing for the UK government to do “what is absolutely necessary in terms of reducing cost pressures through tax holidays, PAYE breaks and the suspension of the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Ms Hyslop said, “The overall economic impact is clearly likely to be significant, though the scale and duration of the impact are difficult to predict.

“Depressed economic activity this year will have implications for the public finances through lower tax receipts and higher welfare spending.

“This will have severe economic consequences and we are treating it as an economic emergency, triggered by the enormity of the health emergency.

“I welcome the further support announced by the Chancellor and the Scottish Government will pass all consequentials to businesses to help them through this challenging period.”

The announcement also confirms a delay to the introduction of a deposit return scheme and a halt to legislation relating to the tourist tax.

The full package:-

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

The £2.2 billion package of support for business supersedes the £320 million package announced on 14 March and includes an additional £1.9 billion of increased support following the Chancellor’s announcement on 17 March.

Category: Coronavirus, Editors' Picks, News
Tags: support package for Scottish businesses