While the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has welcomed new support measures announced in yesterday’s Scottish Government budget, it has warned that financial aid for hospitality “doesn’t go far enough” to support or meet increasing property and staff costs.
The measures unveiled yesterday by Kate Forbes include a three-month rates relief extension and a reduction in the poundage to 49p, as well as the payment of February business grants at Level 4, whatever level a business is in.
However, SHG said that “more immediate” financial help is still needed, and is calling on the UK government to extend and improve furlough, as this has a “massive” financial burden on business owners with NI contributions.
It comes as SHG revealed that its members had suffered their worst December’s trading in living memory, taking on more than £16m of debt since the first lockdown started.
While it said the new measures have now come at a “crucial period” for the industry, it said it does not do enough to provide businesses with “some form of hope and stability in an industry that has faced significant disruption”.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for SHG, said: “It is welcome that the Scottish Government has recognised the enormity of the challenges facing our national hospitality in its budget statement. However, what matters is how businesses across the industry can actually survive.
“Over the past six months, the Scottish Government has regularly over-promised and under delivered for our sector. Thousands of hospitality businesses and employees across Scotland cannot afford for them to do so again.”
The group has now finalised a manifesto for how the government and industry can work together, which calls for immediate support to allow businesses to survive, setting out measures required to restore jobs and “keep the industry alive”.
Demands include waiving business rates until at least March 2022, supporting a permanent reduction in the VAT rate to 5% on food services and accommodation and introducing specific grant schemes to help the hardest hit sectors.
Montgomery added: “It’s crucially important that the Scottish Government continues its dialogue with industry to ensure Scottish hospitality businesses are adequately supported throughout this pandemic and are in a strong position to support the country’s economic recovery.
“Our manifesto is the first step in setting out what the sector needs from the government and we hope that the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the First Minister will listen closely to our proposals.”