Anger as ‘not a single penny’ reaches businesses

THE celebrations were muted, and mostly, perhaps, a hopeful look ahead to a better year this year.

Most restaurant, pub and hotel businesses are waking up with a massive financial hangover this January 1 after another damp squib of a festive season forced upon them by Covid.

As businesses buckle down to the national fight – which would be helped more widely if rich countries like the UK keep their promises on global vaccine equity – an adequate amount of support must be brought forward timeously.

It is claimed “not a single penny” in support has reached businesses in this latest round of restrictions.

The Christmas and New Year trading period is critical for businesses of all kinds across Scotland as it usually provides that crucial cushion for the lean first quarter.

For some it is the virtual equivalent of needing the support of furlough and getting a grant that doesn’t cover a fraction of the wage bill will create a financial black hole from which many will not return.


Trading in hospitality plummeted 70 per cent across Scotland, and this has cost the sector £1 billion, according to Leon Thompson, industry body UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director.

“Restrictions, closures, further cancellations, and jobs increasingly at risk is the Scottish Government’s new year message to hospitality businesses and workers,” he said. “To compound matters, not a single penny of the promised support has reached businesses that have exhausted their financial options. Hospitality businesses need access to it now, not in a few weeks. As it is, the money does not compensate them for the enormous losses they have experienced this month. Our sector has lost more than £1 billion during December.”

He added: “For those businesses able to operate, the extended period of self-isolation is a further challenge. As businesses count the cost of a losses over Hogmanay, many today will fear the worst for their future.”

The hospitality industry is on its knees, and cannot afford anything but swift and decisive action from Holyrood and Westminster this time.

In Scotland, relationships between politicians and commerce are being strained further, and our special business news focus shone a light on concerns generated by the delay of a much-anticipated national strategy which could shape the economy in the years coming out of Covid.

A chorus of voices including those of Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief Liz Cameron and retail leader David Lonsdale criticised Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes for pushing back the plans.

“Businesses are suffering and their focus right now is on survival, but they need to see a long-term economic plan,” said Ms Cameron.

HeraldScotland: The giant Cygnus gas field in the North Sea is operated by Neptune Energy, which has expanded through acquisition Picture: Neptune EnergyThe giant Cygnus gas field in the North Sea is operated by Neptune Energy, which has expanded through acquisition Picture: Neptune Energy

As Russia and Europe clash over gas, windpower wavers, and households brace for a price hike, the outlook for investment in new North Sea developments is uncertain.

Assets in the area will remain in demand, but things are not that easy now in the wake of the furore about the giant Cambo oil field off Shetland.

In another special report this week, it is revealed accountancy experts reckon Shell’s decision to drop plans to develop Cambo highlights the added complications that now face potential investors following the months of oil and gas price volatility triggered by the pandemic.

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