Susan Young spells out what she thinks of this week’s moves

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I have to say that I was absolutely flabbergasted by the First Minister’s decision to keep Edinburgh in Tier 3.  The cost of keeping Edinburgh at Tier 3 is estimated to be costing pubs alone more than £3m and that doesn’t include other hospitality businesses such as restaurants and hotels.
But worst of all the Scottish Government has ultimately destroyed our confidence in the Tier strategy. Businesses of all types need to know that if they meet the criteria to move down a level that the First Minister will abide and honour the arrangements that the Scottish Government put in place, otherwise what is the point of having them. Equally, businesses also know that if virus levels rise they will go up a level. The Scottish Government invented the ‘Tier system’, implemented it, and has now ignored it.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has stated that Edinburgh was potentially a “magnet”  for people coming from outwith the area to shop and use hospitality venues. With all due respect, when the Tiers were announced the First Minister knew that Edinburgh was the capital city… nothing has changed there. What has changed is the rhetoric. The Scottish Government has changed the goalposts.
The move has been slammed by MSP’s from all parties and the SNP leader of the council Adam McVey also disagrees with the move, saying, “I’ve been strongly pressing for Edinburgh’s case to move to a lower level of restrictions when safe to do so. The data suggests that time should have been now.”
Health officials, we also know, were not against the move to Tier 2.
The First Minister said, despite Edinburgh numbers resting below level two requirements, “If you have a situation where you have in any area case numbers rising slightly, or not declining significantly enough, then there is a real risk in easing restrictions.
“The danger is the situation runs very quickly out of control, and the judgement the Cabinet reached was that to take Edinburgh down a level at this stage would have posed a significant risk to the overall situation – which is why we didn’t do it.”
I know the Scottish Government has a lot of its plate but it doesn’t do itself any favours when it fails to adhere to its own strategy.
As to the funding on offer,  well we don’t yet know what is on offer. Research by the Scottish Hospitality Group has laid out the fact that Scottish hospitality operators are getting the least support in the UK and compared to Europe, Scotland is not even in the ballpark.

  • £269 in Wales
  • £147 in Northern Ireland
  • £80 in England.
  • £64 in Scotland

The First Minister explained that we had not experienced a full-scale lockdown like the Welsh or the English… she obviously hasn’t got the same figures we have that show that Scotland was open for 107 days of trading and England 134 since the start of the pandemic, and Scotland’s hospitality operators have actually been under more stringent mitigations than the rest of the UK.
The British Beer & Pub Association revealed that overall sales across all pubs in the UK this weekend were 84% lower than last year, From what I gather it is the biggest employers, and the previously successful businesses, that have been hit hardest by a lack of financial support. It would be interesting to see the level of government support compared to the decrease in revenues.
It is time that the Scottish Government included business people in their discussions… or perhaps it time for business people to set up their own political party. The lack of representation at government level has been dismal. This cannot go on.

Good leadership involves getting the very best people in the country around the table and taking on board what they advise, and the advice I would imagine would be quite clear – give hospitality companies that urgently need financial support the cash. Not all businesses need support – some are operating at 80/90% of last years figures but the businesses that have had to remain closed or which are operating at 25% or less of last year’s turnover need help urgently. The hospitality trade has given the Scottish Government a full breakdown of what financial support is required and where, but still the Scottish Government does not listen.
Doesn’t anyone realise that by taking on board what is being said by the actual industry the Government could save cash, and distribute the funds when and where it is needed and ultimately save businesses and jobs?

So that is my rant over… just about. I can’t believe the Government only gave food and drink wholesalers a week to get their grant requests in having had nine months to pontificate on whether they would get any support or not.

Anyway finally, some good news background music is back on from Saturday… so you get can those Christmas tunes on..

Susan Young is publisher of DRAM and Hotel Scotland

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