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Scottish trade bodies provide government with route out of lockdown

Published:  15 March, 2021

Key Scottish trade bodies have joined forces to collectively provide the government with a route out of lockdown.

As part of the united set of recommendations, which has now been submitted to the government, the hospitality groups have urged the government to mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, with the stripping away of additional restrictions such as a curfew and the service of alcohol only with a meal. 

Moreover, the groups have also provided government with a series of small tweaks to the restriction levels in the freshly proposed tiered system, which they said would allow the sector to meet both public health and economic objectives as strict Covid measures remain in place.

Research from BiGGAR Economics showed that this proposed pragmatic approach was essential if the Scottish government was to “avoid catastrophic business failure” across the hospitality sector, the trade bodies said.

The figures show that under the current Level 3 restrictions, 54% of hospitality businesses could be operating, which generates a turnover of £269m and supports 21,900 jobs.

Moreover, it found that if government was to open with the proposed Level 3 industry ask, 73% of businesses could be operating, generating a turnover of £927m and supporting 53,300 jobs.

“With all of the current levels in the Strategic Framework of restrictions affecting business viability across the board, changes need to be made if this important sector to Scotland’s economy is to survive, continue to provide jobs, contribute to the public purse and restart the important role it plays in local economies and the fabric of the community,” said Colin Wilkinson, MD of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA). 

“By tweaking the restrictions in the various levels, the Scottish government has the opportunity to throw a lifeline to the industry and those that it employs as we ride out the storm.”

The BiGGAR Economics’ study also found that under the newly-proposed Level 2 changes, 91% of businesses could be operating, which would generate a turnover of £1.2bn and support 68,000 jobs. 

This is compared to current Level 2 restrictions in which only 73% of business could operate, generating a turnover of £634m and supporting only 34,900 jobs.

“This study highlights the severe negative economic impact that the Covid-19 lockdown has had on the hospitality sector, the businesses and people who work in the sector itself, and in the supply chain,” said Graeme Blackett, director of BiGGAR Economics.

“It also demonstrates that the changes to the restrictions in the level system that the hospitality sector has proposed, can place the hospitality sector and the wider food and drink supply chain in a much stronger position. 

“Adjustments to the restrictions could get thousands of people back to work and allow the sector to generate turnover and contribute significantly to the public finances in the coming weeks and months.”

The industry bodies involved comprise The Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, SLTA, The Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association.