Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is backing demands for the SNP to perform a u-turn after self-catering and B&B operators were excluded from top-up payments.
It comes just days after SNP minister Kate Forbes u-turned on her plan to refuse taxi drivers on ‘state benefits’ access to a £1,500 grant.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “B&Bs and self-catering businesses are a vital part of the hospitality and tourism sector in the Highlands and Islands, which is worth £1bn to the regional economy."
“Given the hammering the sector has taken, it is surely right that these businesses should get comparable support as others. Kate Forbes u-turned when we put pressure on her over taxi drivers and I very much hope she will perform a hand-brake turn on this matter too.”
It was also revealed today that the SNP’s Digital Growth Fund, which was announced by Nicola Sturgeon as a £36 million fund, has only paid out £6 million to businesses.
The latest Scottish Government statistics show that less than a tenth of promised funding since October has been paid out.
The Scottish Conservatives have now written to Kate Forbes calling for a u-turn on grant eligibility to protect Scotland’s vital self-catering sector.
The Scottish Government site states: “Restaurants, bars, pubs, licensed social and sports clubs, cafes and hotels are in scope for the hospitality top up payment. Other accommodation providers (self-catering, B&Bs, guesthouses, campsite and caravan parks) are not eligible.” (link).
The SNP launched a £36 million Digital Growth Fund in 2017. The SNP said in 2017: ‘Supported by £36 million over the next three years, the fund will provide loans to companies who wish to develop the digital skills of their staff in areas such as cyber security, data analytics and software engineering as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to improve economic productivity.’ (Scottish Government, 18 March 2018, link)
But after three years, the SNP have only delivered £6.1 million in funding to 121 Scottish businesses. Kate Forbes revealed in a written answer to a question from Maurice Golden that to date the SNP’s Digital Growth fund has only £6,114,208 to 121 of Scotland’s businesses, that means that three years after the fund was launched the SNP have only spent 17 of the money put aside to support businesses. (Scottish Parliament, Written Answer, 18 January 2021, link)