Scotland must have “more ambition” to restart economy, says UK minister

The Scottish Government should be "more ambitious" on reviving the economy by autumn, Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart has said.

Fergus Ewing is confident hospitality will return on July 15
Fergus Ewing is confident hospitality will return on July 15

It came as Holyrood’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said he was “pretty hopeful” that the country’s hospitality and tourism sector would return on July 15. That would be eleven days later than the sector is due to return in England on July 4, in a date being hailed as “independence day” by Whitehall ministers.

Shops in Scotland are also due to reopen a week on Monday, a fortnight after they returned south of the border.

Mr Stewart called for greater ambition from Holyrood ministers as he appeared on the BBC’s Politics Scotland today."I think the focus of the Scottish Government should be a bit more ambitious to make sure the economy is getting up and running by the autumn," he said.Mr Stewart said it is "not helpful” to focus on the UK Government’s furlough scheme beyond October when it is due to finish.Mr Ewing called for the furlough scheme to be extended."We do think that the assistance which will expire in October will be insufficient to achieve the primary objective here, which is to mitigate financial hardship for businesses who at the moment have no revenue but face overheads which continue to be paid,” he said."Our assessment is that the impact on tourism, even after resumption - which we hope will on July 15 in Scotland - will be so severe that longer-term help will be required."Pointing out that in parts of Scotland the tourist season runs from April to September, he said: "Therefore, to cut off support just at the time when the season ends from that point of view looks to be pretty draconian."Mr Ewing said he is "hopeful" through dialogue with the UK Government "we can actually achieve something" on the issue.He added he is "pretty confident" almost all tourism activities will be able to resume north of the border from July 15, unless there is a second wave of the virus or localised spread.

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