Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that £3million of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund allocation will be repurposed to support bed and breakfast businesses.
Initially, many small tourism businesses, such as B&B owners, found themselves excluded from applying for support because they did not use a business bank account, even though many had been advised by their banks to operate through a separate personal account.
Over recent weeks, Mr McArthur has repeatedly pressed Scottish Ministers to address gaps in the existing support available, and highlighted this specific issue with the Finance Secretary during a virtual Members Questions session on 21st May.
Orkney’s MSP therefore welcomed the Scottish Government’s willingness to review the situation and agree to repurpose support for B&Bs who have so far slipped through the net.
Following the announcement, Mr McArthur commented:
“Orkney’s tourism sector has been poleaxed by the Covid pandemic. While the various schemes put in place have been a welcome response by the UK and Scottish Governments, far too many tourism businesses have continued to fall through the gaps.
“The requirement for applicants to have a standalone business bank account has proved particularly problematic. Certainly it has prevented support reaching precisely the sort of businesses who need it most, including B&Bs.
“I have been raising this point repeatedly with Ministers in recent weeks, including during discussions with the Finance Secretary earlier this week. To her credit, Kate Forbes accepted the unfairness in excluding so many genuine tourism businesses and agreed to review the position. I welcome the fact that this review has led to a change that will give more local B&Bs the chance to access the support they need.
“There are certainly more gaps that require to be filled, and I will continue to make the case on their behalf. Meantime, for many B&B businesses in Orkney, I’m sure there will be a sense of relief at this decision”.