Targeted support for suffering sectors worth £185m announced by Scottish Government

More support will be available to struggling Scottish sectors in the new year, the finance secretary announced in the Scottish Parliament.

Funding of £185 million was announced by Kate Forbes, with £60m going to the tourism industry, including for self-catering accommodation providers, and £19m in one-off grants for taxi drivers.

Stating she had listened to businesses requesting more support, Ms Forbes said the funding package would be “appropriately targeted” on a sector-by-sector basis and was “as effective as possible”.

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced the details of £185m of targeted business support.

A total of £5m will be made available for the wedding sector and for travel agents, with £6m available for coach companies and tour operators.

One-off grants totalling £15m will be provided for mobile close contact services such as hairdressers and £1.5m will be made available to visitor attractions.

Ms Forbes said the minister for sport and public health, Joe Fitzpatrick, would provide details of support for spectator sports and football clubs in a statement on Thursday.

The finance secretary added a grant fund worth £30m would be available to hospitality in January with grants ranging from £2,000 to £3,000, with £1.5m also available for travelling showpeople.

Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the announcement was “too little, too late”.

He 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.”

The Federation of Small Business Scotland’s policy chair, Andrew McRae, said the funding would close some “yawning gaps” and was glad “ministers have seen the light”.

He said: “However, we’re now left with a myriad of schemes at various stages of delivery, with much of the cash unlikely to reach firms until the new year.

"In the future, we need to see policymakers in Edinburgh deliver help for local businesses at the same pace as they implement restrictions on the economy.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, welcomed the announcement, but said much of the industry was operating “mostly in an unviable, unsustainable manner”.

He said: “Our industry has been left in limbo for an unacceptable period of time with no clear or helpful indication of when support will land, forcing many business owners into temporary and permanent closure to stem the daily haemorrhage of outgoings, which are required to remain even partially operational during this period of restrictions.

“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.”

The Association of Scottish Self-Caterers claimed that £265m had been lost in the sector due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to research by consultancy firm Frontline, with two providers losing £1.5m and £2.6m in lost earnings respectively.

ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell said: “These alarming and distressing figures show that Covid-19 restrictions have sent a financial wrecking ball swinging through Scotland’s vital self-catering sector.

“While we welcome the announcement of more funds for the hospitality sector, we’ve yet to see what it means for our sector, which has been completely devastated by the travel restrictions as borne out in the findings from the Frontline Report”

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