The Scottish Hospitality Group has challenged all of 2021’s Holyrood hopefuls to sign a pledge supporting the nation’s hospitality workers ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May.
At the same time it has also created a manifesto in which it puts forward more than 10 proposals that would help the hospitality sector survive and recover which includes asking the Scottish government to support turning Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans into grants for the sector.
The pledge card, which is currently being sent to confirmed candidates, asks them to:
- Acknowledge the vital role that the hospitality sector plays in the fabric of Scotland’s economy, especially youth employment, rural employment, tourism, and food and drink production
- Recognise the huge impact on public services, public finances, suppliers, pensions and community investment that would result from a devastated hospitality sector
- Appreciate the extraordinary measures taken by responsible hospitality businesses and their staff to implement government rules and keep the public safe
- Visit a local hospitality business as soon as restrictions permit to see the measures in place, see how well staff are working and show support for those whose jobs or livelihoods depend on the sector
- Support an industry / government working group on a plan to bounce back stronger and on better contingency planning in case of similar disruption in future.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the SHG, said, “These are simple non-political requests and if a candidate isn’t prepared to support them then it suggests voters might like to ask them some serious questions about their views on this vital industry. Hospitality is worth £10.6bn to the Scottish economy annually and employs 285,000 people, many of whom are young Scots under 25.”
Montgomery added, “Our manifesto has been produced by industry professionals and outlines a clear plan for how the SHG can work with the government to ensure our industry survives. It may be a tired phrase, but we continue to live in unprecedented times, and it is of paramount importance that the Scottish Government continues to liaise with the hospitality sector to ensure we receive the support we need. People’s livelihoods depend on it.”
The manifesto calls for emergency help that would guarantee grant support for businesses that are unable to open due to government-imposed Level 4 restrictions and supporting a sector-specific job retention scheme until at least March 2022, including the reinstatement of the job retention bonus. It also suggests a phased lifting of restrictions, similar to guidelines in place in Autumn last year, which would allow businesses in Levels 2 and 3 to trade to at least 10pm, whilst adhering to appropriate safety measures.
A manifesto for Scottish hospitality
Proposals for how Scottish hospitality and government can work together in fighting the health and economic impacts of Covid-19.
- Guarantee further and realistic grant support for businesses unable to trade viably through no fault of their own, so that the jobs and other economic benefits they provide can still exist
- Help businesses survive through a phased lifting of restrictions by permitting:
- Level 2 businesses to serve alcohol with a meal until 10pm, with a sitting limit of 2 hours
- Level 3 businesses to open until 10pm (with no alcohol), with a sitting limit of 2 hours.
Restoring jobs and economic benefits
- Create an industry / government recovery leadership group
- Support a sector-specific job retention scheme until at least March 2022 and the reinstatement of the job retention bonus.
- Support the inclusion of employer’s NI and pension contributions in the job retention scheme
- Support a permanent reduction in the VAT rate to 5% on food services and accommodation
- Support the ability for hospitality businesses to use corporation tax losses in this year to be set off against other tax liabilities including VAT and PAYE
- Ease planning restrictions for refurbishments and extensions, especially of outdoor spaces
- Introduce more flexible licensing restrictions and processes
- Introduce specific grant schemes to help the hardest hit sectors especially drink-led venues and nightclubs
- Require supermarkets and other ‘essential’ services to pay business rates to help offset the lower contribution to public funds from ‘non-essential’ sectors
- Support converting Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans into grants for businesses in the hardest hit sectors.