The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) has slammed the decision, calling it “grossly unfair” and “part of a pattern of contempt and neglect” that the government has shown the sector.
Finance Minister Kate Forbes and officials within the Scottish Government’s Tourism Directorate made the decision, announced on Monday 11 January, which will see hospitality business owners across the country benefit from an additional £3.3million in top-up grants which are inextricably linked to the Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF).
Despite being eligible for the framework fund, albeit for the duration that Scotland remains in a Level 4 lockdown, self-caterers have been explicitly excluded from the top-up money with only the flimsiest excuses being offered.
The decision to omit self-catering from the top-up grants is illogical and unfair – especially as many hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, who rely on the economic footfall of self-catering, will be eligible for support.
Additionally, the ASSC has observed a lack of willingness to communicate fully with representatives of the sector.
The decision to leave Scotland’s vital self-catering sector without access to this much needed money will see many business owners thinking seriously about the viability of their businesses and further jeopardises the livelihoods of the thousands who work in the industry.
Many self-catering businesses have been closed since 23rd September 2020 but unlike other sectors, they have not received financial support from the Scottish Government. The £7m sector support grant announced on 21st December will be targeted at businesses that have been impacted by the Rule of One Household. It will not reach vast swathes of the sector.
Each day that passes with no action puts more businesses at risk of closure.
Despite claiming that it prizes Scotland’s tourism offering, the Scottish Government has failed to pass on the consequentials to self-catering in what is being seen as an additional let-down for the industry.
Many within the self-catering sector have been deeply disappointed in and critical of the Scottish Government’s support for the sector throughout the pandemic, citing the effort put in by many across Scotland which has thus far been unrewarded.
Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:
“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.
“If the Finance Minister is intent on sticking by this poor decision, it is now imperative that she explain in detail what reasoning, if any at all, lies behind it.
“How can she seriously justify cherry-picking one section of the tourism and hospitality sector over another when it comes to funding eligibility?”
“Trust in the Scottish Government within our sector has all but evaporated as this pattern of contempt and neglect seems set to continue.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that they do not understand our sector and are making no attempt to try and understand our sector.”
“Our members have contributed so much, creating memory-making holidays for millions of visitors as well as millions of pounds for the Scottish economy, so to be continually and capriciously let down by the thoughtlessness pouring out from St Andrew’s House is really more than many of us can stomach.”