Call for ‘extraordinary’ additional support for businesses

Business, tourism and hospitality leaders have written a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Call for ‘extraordinary’ additional support for businesses Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to provide an “extraordinary package of support” from business, tourism and hospitality leaders.

A joint letter from the chief executives of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink and the Scottish Chamber of Commerce calls for a “swift and committed response” to the financial impact of the new lockdown.

On Saturday, the First Minister announced all of mainland Scotland would be put under level four restrictions from Boxing Day for at least three weeks in response to the discovery of a new, fast-spreading strain of coronavirus.

Measures include a travel ban and restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops forced to shut.

The letter to Sturgeon from business leaders warned that the tourism and hospitality sectors face “the slimmest chance of recovery over the coming months”, without additional, targeted support from the Scottish and UK governments.

Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive Marc Crothall wrote: “Without a more equitable and upweighted level of support being made available quickly, it is likely that many more businesses will be forced into temporary or permanent closure”.

Calling for an “extraordinary package of funding”, he added: “The scale of damage and devastation to businesses, local economies, communities and livelihoods will be unprecedented without immediate, more meaningful, targeted and robust support from both governments.

“I would urge you and your Cabinet colleagues to dig deeper into the monies already at your disposal and to allocate them sooner in addition to pressing the UK Government much harder for the additional financial support which is so urgently needed by Scotland’s business community.”

Following the announcement of scaled-back Christmas easing and a new national lockdown, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) estimated shops would miss out on an estimated £135m for each week they are closed.

David Lonsdale, the SRC director, said the news “rounds off a torrid year for Scottish retail and is a further hammer-blow to non-food stores”.

He continued: “The consequences of this move could be severe.

“This decision comes only a week after the end of the local lockdowns in west central Scotland and slap bang in the middle of peak trading which so many are depending on to power their recovery and tide them over the leaner winter period.

“Faced with this news – and the prospect of losing £135m each week in revenues during the lockdown – many stores will be in serious difficulty.

“Many could be lumbered with unsold pre-Christmas stock which will be difficult to shift in the absence of the usual Boxing Day and new year discounted sales events, adding to cash flow woes.

“All of this will have implications for the survival of shops, for retail jobs and the vitality of our retail destinations.”

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