Firms demand compensation for DRS delay
Humza Yousaf: blamed UK government
First Minister Humza Yousaf is facing calls for compensation from firms which have spent thousands preparing for the launch of Scotland’s bottle and can recycling scheme.
Mr Yousaf yesterday announced the deposit return scheme’s planned start-date in August would be pushed back to 1 March next year after mounting concern that many firms were not ready and that its operation was still unclear.
The Federation of Independent Retailers welcomed the latest postponement but is calling for retailers who have already signed contracts for reverse vending machines (RVMs) to be recompensed.
Glasgow store owner and deputy vice president of the Fed, Mo Razzaq, said: “We still have a lot of unanswered questions and we will be demanding compensation for those retailers that have already entered into expensive contracts for the RVMs required to operate the scheme.
“Many of our members have spent large sums of money buying RVMs and altering the layout of their stores to be prepared for the launch of the scheme in August.
“We will also continue to push the government for grants to help pay for the machines. The Irish government has said it will help smaller retailers in this way, and we urge the Scottish government to follow Ireland’s lead.”
Lorna Slater, the Circularity minister responsible for the scheme, will make a further statement to the parliament on Thursday.
Not so soon: the scheme will be delayed
Mr Yousaf blamed the UK government for the delay, stating that it had not made a decision on whether it would be excluded from Westminster legislation.
“I remain committed to this scheme as a way to increase recycling, reduce litter and help achieve our net zero ambitions, but we recognise the uncertainty that continues to be created as a result of the UK Government delaying the decision to exclude the scheme from the Internal Market Act,“ he told MSPs.
“We had hoped for that decision this week – but it has not come.
“At the same time, I – and the Circular Economy Minister – have heard the concerns of business, particularly about the scheme’s readiness for launch this August.
“As a result, we will now delay the launch of the scheme to the 1st of March 2024 – this provides 10 months for businesses to get ready.
“We will use that additional time to work with businesses, and Circularity Scotland, to address concerns with the scheme and ensure a successful launch next year.”
FSB’s Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae said: “It’s a huge relief for producer and retailers alike that he has listened to FSB’s calls for a pause on the ill-conceived Deposit Return Scheme.
“DRS was a prime example of what can go wrong when policy crashes into practicality – as were the controversial anti-alcohol advertising plans he has sent back to the drawing board. The First Minister clearly recognises the need to rethink how his administration engages with business and implements its plans.”
Mr Yousaf also announced a review of the proposed ban on alcohol promotion and will consult with businesses.
“Scotland will only be successful if our businesses are successful,” he said.
He has instructed officials to work with the industry, and with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals.
“I believe that all of us want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, particularly to young people but without undermining Scotland’s world class drinks industry or tourism sector.
“I am hopeful that by taking a fresh look at this issue, we can find a way forward which achieves both of those aims.”
On oil and gas he pledged to work with workers in the north east in the transition to net zero.
“We will never do to oil and gas workers in the north east of Scotland, what Thatcher did to our mining and steel communities,” he declared.
“We will take the workers of the north east – and indeed the whole of Scotland – with us on our just transition journey.”
Among other proposals was a six-month trial scrapping peak rail fares, that is set to begin in October. He said the evidence from the pilot will be used to assess fares across the rail network.
“The evidence from this pilot – and our wider fair fares review – will allow us to bring forward further targeted measures, from next year onwards, to ensure that the costs of transport are more fairly shared.”
Tory finance spokeswoman Liz Smith asked the First Minister what detailed analysis had been undertaken to look at the implications for raising tax rates on middle and higher earners.
Mr Yousaf assured her that there was detailed analysis and he repeated earlier comments that he believes higher earners should pay more tax to help meet the cost of public services.
Summary of FM’s policy commitments:
- a ‘New Deal for Scottish Business’ will be sought, with urgent discussion to agree how government can better support businesses and communities using policy levers such as Non-Domestic Rates.
- an extension of the Deposit Return Scheme launch date to March 2024, from August this year.
- an explicit commitment to support economic growth for a purpose – to help business and trade to thrive and maximise the opportunity for a fair, green economy.
- confirmation of a further £1.3 billion investment for the Scottish Child Payment over the next three years
- improved cancer outcomes through better prevention and diagnostics, including expanded Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Services in Lanarkshire and Borders by June 2023
- investment of up to £25 million to convert suitable properties into affordable homes for key workers and others, as part of an action plan to increase housing in remote, rural and island areas
- confirmation of a six-month pilot removing peak-time fares from ScotRail services from October to make rail travel more accessible, available and affordable.
- the delivery of six new vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network and a doubling of the charge point network for electric vehicles to at least 6,000
- reinstating Scotland’s participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) studies to increase the availability of internationally comparable data on Scotland’s education performance
- seeking a new agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to support the delivery of shared priorities, and legislation to give councils powers to apply a Local Visitor Levy on overnight stays in commercially let accommodation as additional means to raise revenue