New changes to support for hospitality and related businesses in Scotland met with a mixed reaction from the industry yesterday (Tuesday, October 27)

Commenting on the announcement that one-off grants of up to £50,000 (plus grants of up to 75% on subsequent properties) will be available to nightclubs and soft play businesses in Scotland, UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “This is incredibly positive support for two elements of hospitality that had been neglected.

“These businesses have been closed since the very start of the crisis and they have been looking ahead without much reassurance or idea of when they might start trading again. This financial boost will be a lifeline, keeping businesses and jobs secure.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls added: “This is a pragmatic and very positive manoeuvre from the Scottish Government and it is good to see some creative thought going into supporting businesses. We hope Westminster follows suit and provides similar support.”

But on the wider impact of the new ‘5-Level’ Covid-19n system of social control, Willie Macleod said: “This five-level system doesn’t appear to do hospitality businesses any good. There are small reasons to be positive, but the continual restrictions, lack of time to adjust and uncertainty over support is a worry.

“Relaxing the restrictions around meal service is a sensible step. As is the decision to allow alcohol to be served outdoors, although the time of year means this will probably not be a huge benefit.

“It is very disappointing that hotels are still unable to serve alcohol to residents other than in very restricted circumstances. When these businesses have made a huge effort and spent considerable sums making areas COVID secure, it remains a big blow. The level 3 restrictions around food service without alcohol are incredibly tight.

“Again, we need to stress the importance of providing sufficient guidance and time to allow businesses to get to grips with new measures. Businesses need to plan, order stock, communicate details to staff and that all takes time that they are not being given.

“It is vital that businesses know with certainty that adequate financial support will be made available over the duration of the five-level system to compensate business forced to close either through legislation or lack of financial viability. The sector has spent an estimated £80-90 million making premises safe and able to welcome customers. There are huge costs associated with closure, too. Businesses are spending around £10,000-15,000 per week just to stay closed. Financial support must be expansive and reflect these realities.

“The hospitality sector, which is vital to so many communities, must also be directly involved in the Business Advisory Council proposed by Scottish Conservatives if it is adopted.”