Covid; Edinburgh and London in weekend talks over new support for hospitality

THE UK and Scottish governments are to have talks over the weekend about extra support for hospitality businesses seeing trade collapse amid the Omicron surge.

The First Minister and Boris Johnson spoke about potential Treasury intervention in a call this afternoon.

Ms Sturgeon’s office said they were constructive but “inconclusive” with more discussions planned.

It followed Ms Sturgeon saying today she felt unable to consider some restrictions because she lacked the money to compensate affected businesses.

She said the Scottish Government had very limited borrowing powers, and so relied on the UK Government to borrow and fund such compensation instead.

She said it would be “unconscionable” for the Treasury not to act on the matter.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government had moved money around within it budget to find £100m support for the worst affected parts of the economy.

Of this, £66m will go to the hospitality, £20m to the culture sector, £8m to the food and drink supply chain, £3m to the wedding industry and £3m to the hardest hit tourism businesses.

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The First Minister had a constructive – though at this stage inconclusive – discussion with the Prime Minister.  

“They shared respective views on the current Omicron situation and agreed that it represents a significant threat to health and the economy.

“The First Minister emphasised the extreme urgency of the crisis for businesses in the hospitality, events, culture and related sectors which are already suffering a severe financial impact, and stressed that they needed immediate assurances of support from the Treasury.

“The Prime Minister agreed that there needed to be swift engagement with the Treasury on the immediate action needed, and committed to further talks over the weekend. 

“The First Minister also made clear that the devolved administrations require clarity that additional funding support would be available – and also on how it can be triggered by any or all of the UK administrations – in the event of further protective measures being necessary to tackle the virus in the period ahead.” 



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