FM accused of ‘disrespecting parliament’ over hospitality support

Sturgeon announced this week that a £30m fund would be available for the areas moved into level four.

FM accused of ‘disrespecting parliament’ over hospitality support Getty Images

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “disrespecting parliament” over support on offer for hospitality businesses.

Last week, MSPs backed a motion in Holyrood calling on the Scottish Government to provide enough support through the coronavirus pandemic to ensure no jobs are lost in the hospitality and tourism industry through business closures.

The motion, put forward by Scottish Labour, pushed for ministers to review eligibility criteria for current business grants put in place to support firms through the pandemic.

In the wake of tighter restrictions imposed on 11 local authority areas, Scottish Labour jobs spokesman Alex Rowley accused the First Minister and Scottish Government of “disrespecting” Holyrood.

Sturgeon announced this week that a £30m fund would be available for the areas moved into level four on Friday.

Mr Rowley said: “Parliament made crystal clear that no hospitality or tourism business should be forced to close due to the pandemic – and yet the measures announced by the First Minister will not be enough to prevent businesses going under.

“In bringing forward proposals that fall so short, the First Minister is disrespecting parliament.

“Our hospitality and tourism sector can’t just be turned off and on like a tap. It needs steady support, or jobs will be lost for good.

“The SNP Government needs to think again and bring forward proposals for more extensive support next week.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government took issue with the accusation that the First Minister was disrespecting parliament.

She said: “After the vote, we brought in a four-weekly grant of £2000 or £3000, depending on rateable value, and grants of £1400 or £2100 are available to businesses that are open but subject to trading restrictions.”

The spokeswoman added: “Every decision we take has the sole objective of trying to keep the country as safe as possible and to get it through what we hope is now the final stage of the pandemic, with as few lives lost and as little harm to health – and, indeed, as little harm to the overall economy – as possible.

“Clearly, if we do not properly control the virus, the damage to the economy becomes worse, and the effects will be even longer lasting.

“We are doing everything we can with the powers we have to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3 billion and provides grants to businesses required by law to close, and includes 100% rates relief for pubs and restaurants for the year.”