Scotland’s hospitality businesses deserve better than Sturgeon’s hellish halfway house

Laveta Brigham

Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants are facing the winter in the hellish halfway house of constantly changing rules across five arbitrary tiers. They face increased costs from the safety regulations, and, as tiers lift, a lack of access to financial support to make up for the trade that is still not […]

Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants are facing the winter in the hellish halfway house of constantly changing rules across five arbitrary tiers. They face increased costs from the safety regulations, and, as tiers lift, a lack of access to financial support to make up for the trade that is still not coming this Christmas. 

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association estimates the country could lose nearly half of all jobs in the pub and bar sector. The hardest hit are the youngest with over 40% of staff employed under the age of 25.

A hundred hotels were roundly ignored by the Scottish Government when they warned alcohol bans would see them at high risk of shutting their doors for good. Outdoor activities firms up in the Highlands cannot survive without access to neither customers nor cash. 

Corporate welfare is costly and in the good times it props up bad companies. When things are normal we want unprofitable companies to fail to allow new ones to take their place. If we let more fail now though we’ll throw normally viable businesses under the bus, and leave huge economic scars. It’s short-sighted and a false economy when we know, thanks to vaccines, the end is in sight. 

No number of press conferences, or blaming of Westminster, will make up for the sleepless nights worrying about bills that need paying  their overdrafts increasing as the consequences of Sturgeon’s choices on which companies can open and when start to bite.

This is a devolved mess which is a disaster for businesses and jobs. It stems from the unnecessarily antagonistic relationship between Holyrood and Westminster. We have also ended up with  different responses to the pandemic at a Scottish level  while finance, drawing on our collective British strength to borrow at low rates, is at the UK level.

In London they say that Sturgeon is good at communications, but in Scotland it’s clear that the shine is coming off the SNP. Reality will always win out in the end against fantasy. 

Matt Kilcoyne is Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute

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