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Scots pubs and restaurants claim ‘unfair’ support

Cockburn Street Edinburgh pubs

Pubs say the government is not treating them equally with other UK areas (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s hospitality sector has criticised the Holyrood government for offering a significantly lower level of support than some other parts of the UK.

Bars and restaurants north of the border receive on average a quarter of the financial support they would get in Wales, it has been claimed.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents a number of pub and restaurant groups, said businesses in Scotland can expect just £64 of government support a day over the six-week festive period.

This compares to £269 paid to businesses in Wales, while in Northern Ireland it is £147 and in England £80.

The SHG demanded “fair support compared to other UK nations” and raised concerns about the viability of businesses over the festive season.

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Its call comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today confirm that 11 council areas, including Glasgow, will move out of lockdown on Friday.

Yesterday, she said all areas currently under level four coronavirus restrictions will move down at least one level following a “short sharp” circuit breaker.

The move will see non-essential shops allowed to reopen in the run-up to Christmas, while hospitality venues will also be able to operate under restricted conditions.

Meanwhile, some businesses are still waiting to receive the £1,650 grant payments promised by the First Minister for those forced to close in the central belt from 9 October for the “short sharp shock”.

The SHG says that even if some areas move down a level from 11 December, the tier system and other government measures mean many businesses will be unable to trade viably, and not enough to recoup significant losses. Nor will they be able to create a financial safety net to see them through the quietest time of year. 

“The position is even starker when compared with leading European countries,” it said.

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Analysis of grant schemes on the continent shows that businesses can claim: £1785 per day in Germany , £1071 per day in the Netherlands and up to 20% of turnover in France. 

SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “Not only have we faced tougher restrictions but we’re eligible for less support.

“This is a shameful way to treat the thousands of hard-working, dedicated staff whose jobs rely on the hospitality sector, especially when you consider that they have to the face the public about the government’s confusing measures.

“We want fair support compared to other UK nations.

“We also want the easing of restrictions to come into effect at 6am on Friday 11 not 6pm, otherwise that’s another day of trading lost.”

He reiterated the group;’s call for the government to tweak the tiers to allow bars and restaurants “to work viably”.

The Scottish Government said: “Our temporary closure grants pay business required to close by law £2,000 a month where the business’s rateable value is up to £51,000 and £3,000 a month where the rateable value of is more than £51,000. These grants are just one part of our total package of support for the hospitality sector which includes 100% rates relief.

“Overall, our help for Scottish businesses is worth more than £2.3 billion – which is more than the consequentials provided for this by the UK Government.

“Hospitality businesses are also eligible for the UK furlough scheme which we intensively pressed the UK Government to extend to avoid thousands of unnecessary job losses in hospitality and other sectors.

“Key economic levers on tax and borrowing lie with the UK Government and our ability to respond to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic is therefore hampered by this centralised UK budgeting approach.”



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