News Digest

Travel sector costs, food skills shortage, oil debate

Jacqueline Dobson addresses SPAA gathering in Glasgow

Jacqueline Dobson, new president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), used her inaugural address to criticise the lack of government support for the travel industry, especially on business rates, apprenticeships and its plans for a visitor levy.

Speaking to an audience of 350 guests in Glasgow, she noted in particular that rates relief provided south of the border is denied in Scotland.

“We are another year down the line where we are at a disadvantage compared with our English counterparts,” she said. “Business might be doing well for many, but rates and bills are skyrocketing for those who choose to trade on the high street.”

With regard to training, she said: “I remain very disappointed that we now no longer have any funding available for Scottish travel apprentices with the courses about to become extinct across colleges.

“To add insult to injury, the vital Flexible Workforce Development Fund has been withdrawn due to budget cuts – meaning that there is even less funding available to travel businesses.

“We are paying into the same levy pot as every other industry across the UK – yet we cannot utilise our own funding for the courses that would make a difference to our businesses.”

Minister ‘lacking interest’ in labour shortages meeting

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has expressed frustration with a lack of response from the UK Government over labour shortages and red tape impacting Scottish food and drink businesses.

She has again called for a meeting with the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Steve Barclay accusing him of a “lack of interest”.

In her latest letter she says: “I have written repeatedly now, and to successive UK Government Ministers, to highlight the scourge of labour shortages on our invaluable food and drink sector.

“I have to say that I am confounded at the lack of substantive response that I have received.

“The only conclusion that I can draw reasonably from this, is an apparent lack of interest, on the part of the UK Government about this very significant issue and which is of great importance to the sector.”

Ross wants leaders debate on energy

Scottish Conseratives leader Douglas Ross has invited his SNP and Labour counterparts, Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar, to take part in a debate with him on the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry.

Mr Ross said: “The North Sea oil and gas industry is crucial not just to the 100,000 skilled workers it employs – predominantly in the North-East – but to Scotland’s entire economy and energy security.

“That’s why I’m urging Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar to join me in a debate on the future of the sector, which has a key role to play in a just and managed transition to net zero.”

Haulage jobs lost

All 65 jobs have been lost at an Angus-based haulage firm following the failure to find a buyer for the business.

AAD Transport appointed administrators in February after the family-owned business struggled through the Covid pandemic and rising operating costs.

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