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Briefing: The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2022-23


  • The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead, A Stronger & More Resilient Scotland,[1] in a statement dominated by the cost-of-living crisis which she framed as a “humanitarian emergency”.
  • She spoke of “hard choices” ahead, as inflation and extra spending on public sector pay impacted the Scottish budget, warning that it would mean “stopping some things we planned to do, to fund what is essential to support people through this crisis.”
  • Most of the measures announced by the Scottish Government were tightly focused on cost-of-living support, such as emergency legislation for rent freezes and banning evictions, increases to the Scottish Child Payment and Fuel Insecurity Fund, as well as Scotrail fare freezes.
  • However, the First Minister took the opportunity to call for immediate action in reserved areas, urging the UK Government to reform the energy market and take action on rising energy bills, increase devolved budgets, introduce an enhanced windfall tax, while also proposing a four-nation summit to discuss the issue.
  • The FM also linked the current crisis to the constitution, arguing that the Scottish Government’s room for manoeuvre was limited, and that it highlighted the need for independence. She reaffirmed the intention to hold a referendum on 19th October 2023, subject to the UK Supreme Court’s determination.

Tourism and Short-Term Lets

Short-Term Lets
  • The Scottish Government will introduce a Housing Bill, in the coming year, which the First Minister said would, amongst other things, “implement key policies on short-term lets”.
  • However, short-term lets were not mentioned in the Programme for Government document and further clarity is required from the Scottish Government on this matter.
  • The Programme for Government was fairly light on issues relating to the tourism sector, other than the introduction of a tourist tax.
  • In 2022-23, the Scottish Government will introduce a Local Visitor Levy which create a discretionary power for local authorities to apply a levy on overnight visitor stays in accommodation, applying in all or part of their area, to help fund relevant local activities and services.

Read more: Briefing PforGovt 6.9.22 – ASSC

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

The Scottish Tourism Alliance welcomes many of the measures announced in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, particularly the commitment to work with the business community to address challenges around increased costs and economic disruption.  

The STA has made clear asks of the Scottish Government to press the UK Government for a reduction in VAT, introduce greater flexibility around immigration policy, support business in handling debt, including the extension of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and other loans, plus measures which will protect businesses from energy prices rises.  It is encouraging to see that many of our asks on behalf of Scotland’s tourism industry are being addressed.

The announcement that a consultation on a new Islands Connectivity Plan to improve the resilience of the ferry will be welcomed by Scotland’s island communities.

It is however disheartening that the Scottish Government has announced that the legislative process around the implementation of several policies; a Transient Visitor Levy, the Deposit Return Scheme and the Short Term Let Bill will proceed over the coming year.

The STA Chair, Chief Executive and members of the STA Council have communicated directly with Scottish Government through requested meetings and consultations, seeking opinion and recommendations on what could be done in respect of existing, new and pending regulation which could help offset the significant increase in direct costs, particularly energy. 

These costs are having to be absorbed by businesses within the tourism sector at a time when consumer spending is also in decline.  Our ask was that these policy areas would be paused to allow the sector to recover from the pandemic and deal with the significant challenges ahead.  

We have also stated that any reference to the possibility of additional levies being imposed on tourists at a future date would be very unwelcome and could potentially impact negatively on business and destinations who are needing to grow a future pipeline of demand in what is an increasingly competitive market-place.

We will continue our discussions around those areas with the Scottish Government in the coming weeks and we look forward to hearing more support for Scotland’s business community in its fiscal review announcement later this month.

[1] Scottish Government, A stronger and more resilient Scotland: The Programme for Government 2022 to 2023 (2022). Url: https://www.gov.scot/publications/stronger-more-resilient-scotland-programme-government-2022-23/

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