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Self-Catering Excluded from Strategic Framework Business Fund – Top Up Grant

Self-Catering is Excluded from the
Strategic Framework Business Fund – ‘Top Up’ Grant

It has come to the attention of the ASSC that Self-Catering businesses are NOT eligible for the ‘TOP UP’ element of the Strategic Framework Business Fund.

We would like to assure our members that we have been completely blind sided by this and cannot comprehend why and how the Scottish Government have come about this decision, it bears no resemblance to common sense.

Letter to Scottish Government

The ASSC has written to Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Tourism, along with the Tourism Directorate, to request clarity on this matter:

An announcement was made on 11th January regarding Extending Support for Hospitality, Retail and Leisure;

“A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes”.

In her announcement, it was described as “this additional support”.

Strategic Framework Business Fund – Next Steps Future Support (Published 31st December, updated 11th January):

1) Hospitality January 2021 payment Top Up Grants
“The one-off payments for eligible hospitality businesses required to close in Level 4 was also increased.   Hospitality businesses that have applied for and are eligible to a payment of up to £3,000 from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will now receive:

a one-off grant of £25,000 for premises with a rateable value of £51,001 or more
a one-off grant of £6,000 for premises with a rateable value of up to and including £51,000”

As you can appreciate, it would seem extraordinary to include hotels in hospitality for the top up grants, but no other accommodation type.

In the original financial support package back in March 2020, self-catering fell under the following scheme: Small Business Support Fund – Non Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Businesses.

The issue is that apparently now we are not hospitality. How can this be?

2) In this same announcement of future support, it then goes on to specify a separate fund for £185 of sector support (which appears to have been reduced to £104.3m)

This support will target specific sectors including: accommodation services, including self-catering, visitor accommodation hostels, hotels, B&Bs and guest houses.

This is referring to the the £7m fund that was announced on 21st December. This is, however, a very specific fund which will be targeted, with eligibility criteria. It will not support the full sector by any stretch of the imagination.

Strategic Framework Business Fund – Eligibility (Published 31st December, updated 11th January):

Self-catering businesses are eligible for Level 4 SFBF.

You will note that within Level 4 eligibility, amongst other business types it notes:

Accommodations – hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan and campsites

Hospitality – restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, social clubs.

Islands business support:

£3.3 million for hospitality, retail and leisure (announced 12th January)

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced £3.3 million of additional funding to support hospitality, retail and leisure businesses on Scotland’s (Level 3) islands.

“The move brings support for island businesses in these sectors into line with those affected by level 4 restrictions on the mainland. Firms are eligible for one-off grants ranging from £6,000 to £25,000 per premises, based on sector and rateable value”.

The decision to leave Scotland’s self-caterers out of this crucial round of additional funding is grossly unfair and must be corrected immediately – or many of us will simply lose our livelihoods. I cannot underemphasise the significance of the level of damage, both financial and mental, being wreaked by the ongoing restrictions and decisions being made by the Scottish Government.

If the Finance Minister is intent on sticking by this poor decision, it is now imperative that she explain in great detail what reasoning, if any at all, lies behind it.

Whilst all financial support is welcome, the self-catering sector to date has only benefited from one grant, 10 months ago.

The context has changed significantly, and it is vital that the thousands of businesses who have been shut down are now supported.

The ASSC seeks urgent clarification on the following points:

  1. If a hotel is considered to be hospitality, why has self-catering been excluded from this support?
  2. If we are excluded, is there going to be another announcement made for self-catering (separate to the Sector Support Grant)? If so, when and indicatively how much will it represent?
  3. Does this mean that self-catering businesses who have been closed by circumstance on Level 3 islands are or are not eligible for the Grant announced today, given that they are also not being identified as Hospitality or Hotel in 2021?
  4. If Level 3 island self-caterers are eligible for the £6k Top Up Grant, this disadvantages the Level 4 self-catering businesses that are closed, who are only eligible for £2k (per month, dependent on how long they stay in Level 4). How can this be?
  5. If you withdraw the £7m for self-caterers, would all self-caterers then be included in the Top Up Grant for Hospitality and Hotels?
  6. Why is self-catering once again being singled out and disadvantaged, despite having evidenced a financial loss of £265m in the last quarter of 2020.
  7. If we are not hospitality businesses, what are we? Accommodation is inherently part of the hospitality sector, and key to tourism in Scotland.

We are awaiting urgent confirmation of the position of this situation and will update you as soon as we have more clarity.

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