SLTA Says Chancellor’s Announcement ‘Not Giving Us Any Grounds For Optimism’ And Calls For More Support

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has described Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s measures to help stave off business closures and mass redundances, particularly within the hospitality industry, as “not giving any grounds for optimism”. And the trade association warned that without further additional sector-specific support, many business owners will have no choice but to close down, leading to job losses.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, commented: “Without having full details, our initial view is that the Chancellor’s introduction of a Jobs Support Scheme and the extension of other initiatives to help businesses are not as far-reaching as we needed – we are very disappointed.

“It must be recognised that the Jobs Support Scheme is significantly less generous then the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It is designed to back ‘viable jobs’ – and with the latest restrictions on our pubs and bars, many jobs in our sector will be unviable. It is also not clear at the moment how the scheme will be implemented.”

Mr Wilkinson continued: “The extension of government-backed loans, such as the Business Interruption and Bounce Back loans repayment dates through the measures announced in the ‘pay as you grow’ scheme and the extension of VAT relief for the hospitality industry until March 31 next year are welcomed but will have minimal effect.

“These are long-term measures of business support. The industry is struggling to survive now and operators need support today through additional comprehensive sector-specific support for the hospitality sector, highlighted by the Chancellor as a sector which has been hit the hardest.

“More must be done for a sector operating under serious restrictive measures.”

If support is not forthcoming, Mr Wilkinson added, the future for businesses and employees will still be under threat as many business owners may still have no choice but to close.

He said: “A recent survey highlighted that nearly 40% of hospitality businesses were considering closure or business exit while a recent SLTA survey highlighted that, within the pub and bar sector, 12,500 jobs could go.”