Tourism and hospitality sectors to benefit from £185m fund

Finance secretary Kate Forbes told Holyrood on Wednesday that assistance will be provided on a 'sector-by-sector basis'.

Tourism and hospitality sectors to benefit from £185m fund Getty Images

Businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic are to benefit from a new £185m package of targeted support, the Scottish Government has announced.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes told Holyrood on Wednesday that £60m will be provided to the tourism sector.

Hospitality businesses, such as pubs and restaurants, will also be offered a special one-off payment of either £2000 or £3000 in January to help them mitigate the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand.

A £19m fund and one-off grants will be available to taxi drivers. Hairdressers and other mobile close contact services will also have access to one-off grants totalling £15m.

There will also be £1.8m in aid for brewers, £1.5m for visitor attractions, £1.5m for travelling show people ineligible for other support, and £5m for the wedding sector.

A further £5m has been earmarked for travel agents and £6m for coach companies and tour operators.

The events sector and live music industry will also be able to apply for help.

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the offer was “too little, too late”.

Shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “Businesses have their backs up against the wall and need access to the additional grants right now – they can’t wait until January with countless jobs and livelihoods on the line.

“Pubs, restaurants, taxis and dozens of other types of business would normally be enjoying one of their best times of year just now. Instead they are facing devastating restrictions and fighting to stay afloat.

“That’s why the Scottish Conservatives have outlined a plan of action to help businesses across Scotland, including carrying a rapid review of business grant limits.”

Announcing the fund, Forbes said the assistance will be provided on a “sector-by-sector basis”.

She said: “Today I am pleased to confirm an allocation of £185m for new and additional business support in the new year. 

“We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.

“We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8m for brewers.

“We will give £1.5m to travelling show people ineligible for other support, while a new £19m fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.

“I can also announce that further support of £60m will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.”

More details will be announced in the coming days and businesses can expect to apply for the new grants in January.

Forbes added: “I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our Covid-19 support offer within the available resources.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, welcomed the announcement, but stated the industry had been “left in limbo for an unacceptable period of time”.

He said: “Despite the announcement of a total package of support, I know there will be widespread disappointment and frustration from many across the industry that the detail on what level of funding businesses can expect to receive, how these funds will be distributed and when, was not made clear in today’s statement.  

“This is what businesses had hoped for and expected from the finance secretary; they have been left to make hugely difficult decisions within a continued context of unknowns.

“Substantial, immediate and targeted support can make the difference between businesses being able to survive through the coming weeks and winter months until we hopefully experience a degree of market stimulation in the spring, or having to close their doors for good.

“The strength of Scotland’s tourism product is being eroded every passing week so my overarching message to the Scottish Government is to provide the clarity awaited on the support package this week and the assurance that the delivery mechanisms of the support are robust enough to allow the monies needed so desperately to be distributed without further delay.”

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