Scottish MP Alyn Smith is calling for urgent support to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses across Stirling, as economic anxieties mount ahead of the festive period.
The Office of National Statistics estimates retail sales volumes fell by 0.3% in October 2023, following a fall of 1.1% in September 2023 (revised from a fall of 0.9%). In October, this represented a 2.7% year-on-year fall.
The UK Chancellor announced in his recent Autumn Statement the continuation of Business Rates relief of 75% for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – worth up to £110,000 on their business rates bill next year. Mr Smith is calling for the Scottish Government to extend similar support to business nationwide in their own budget process.
Alyn Smith MP said: ‘Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are the lifeblood of Stirling’s city centre and high streets. Many are having a really tough time at the moment, with cost pressures continuing to rise, energy bills remaining at historic highs, and the fallout from a slowing economic picture. They need all the support they can get, and I urge the Scottish Government to do all they can in their own budget considerations to support these businesses to the fullest.
‘Stirling is a fantastic place to live, work, study or visit, and I’ve met with countless businesses across the entire constituency who do so much for their community. If we’re to head off a regional economic calamity, and stave off even more empty retail premises, we need to see real action to help our businesses.’
Stuart Fraser, Director at the Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha said: ‘Times are unbelievably tough for hospitality businesses at the moment, with costs increasing and footfall stuttering. The rate relief measures we saw announced in the UK Autumn Statement will be very welcome, and I back Alyn’s call for the Scottish Government to do likewise for those of us in Scotland. Businesses like ours play our part like any other in the community, employing local people and boosting tourism. The pandemic was a hammer blow to the local economy, and businesses can’t take much more of this. I thank Alyn for his rock-solid support, and trust the Scottish Government will do right by us.’
Stephen Montgomery, Director, Scottish Hospitality Group said ‘We welcome Alyn Smith’s advocacy for the much-loved hospitality businesses in his constituency, and for his support for emergency intervention to save Scotland’s hospitality sector.
‘Hospitality is at the heart of our communities, and is Scotland’s third largest employing sector of the economy. But we’re struggling to recover from the double economic hit of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation.”
‘It is vital that the Scottish Government uses the Scottish Budget to give hospitality a fighting chance of survival with emergency business rates relief to match England, and long-term reform to make business rates fairer for hospitality.’