UKH says Holyrood must act to support Scottish hospitality sector

Following the announcement of measures to support the hospitality and tourism sectors in Budget Statement, UKHospitality (UKH) in Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to use its devolved powers to provide tailored support to Scottish businesses.

UKH Executive Director in Scotland, Willie Macleod welcomed decisive moves by the Westminster Government to support business with much of it in response to the ongoing threat from COVID – 19.

Macleod said, “The freezing of excise duties is welcome as is the announcement of a review of the Apprenticeship Levy and increased investment in infrastructure. However, a real opportunity was missed to reduce the rate of VAT on tourism and hospitality services to improve our competitiveness now that we are out of the EU and to help sorely pressed businesses to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Business rates are devolved to Holyrood and some of the measures announced yesterday (for example, the specific relief for pubs, extension of retail relief to hospitality businesses and the cash bonus for small and rural businesses) are not presently applicable in Scotland.

'The UK Government’s commitment to a full review of the rates system is a major step forward. UKHospitality in Scotland has long argued that the sector is sorely disadvantaged by the way in which hospitality and licensed businesses are valued and calls on the Scottish Government to match the Budget proposals and, indeed, go further by extending the reliefs announced yesterday to all hospitality and licensed businesses regardless of size or rateable value.'

Macleod concluded, “The Scottish Government can also do more to support the tourism industry by abandoning current proposals for a tourist tax (or Transient Visitor Levy) which will penalise customers of commercial visitor accommodation and be damaging to the economy at a time of real crisis for the industry.”