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PQ: Small Rural Businesses (Support)

Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con) asked the following question in Parliament last week:  To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support small rural businesses (S6O-00621).

The Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise (Ivan McKee): Our enterprise agencies and Business Gateway provide a range of advice and funding to small rural businesses.

In addition, we are providing £375 million of funding, targeted at the hardest hit sectors, to businesses impacted by the current additional public health measures. We are working to make payments to affected businesses as soon as possible.

Information on the support available to businesses is available on the Find Business Support website, which is updated daily.

Rachael Hamilton: With its introduction of a licensing scheme, the Scottish National Party is about to put a wrecking ball through the rural short-term letting industry. Some organisations have quit the SNP Government’s working group. In a recent parliamentary survey, more than 60 per cent of respondents said that the scheme will drive up costs for small short-term letting businesses.

Rural organisations such as the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, Scottish Agritourism and the NFU Scotland have all voiced concerns about the impact of this reckless scheme. Is it not time for the SNP to stand up for Scotland’s rural businesses?

Ivan McKee:  We do stand up for rural businesses across Scotland. I have outlined the steps that we are taking to support businesses through the current difficult situation and beyond.

Regarding short-term lets, the licensing scheme seeks to ensure that every short-term let in Scotland meets basic safety standards. I am sure that the member will agree that that is important in urban and rural areas and for large and small businesses. Our proposals deliver national consistency on safety standards by giving local authorities flexibility to tailor the scheme to local needs. Residents in some areas are continuing to experience issues caused by short-term lets and it is right that we are taking proportionate action to give local authorities the ability to take measures in that regard.

I have met many of the organisations that the member mentioned and have listened to their concerns. We have addressed some of those concerns in the legislation that my colleague Shona Robison is taking forward. We believe, for all the reasons that I have indicated, that that is the right measure.

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