A north-east MP has held talks with UK Government officials outlining his plan to save jobs in the event and hospitality industries.
Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, is concerned about the impact coronavirus restrictions has had on the two sectors.
He has now written to senior government ministers outlining his “three-point plan” to help prevent redundancies.
And he also met advisors to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss his plan yesterday.
His plan aims to protect industries which are still waiting to reopen or are working under restrictions brought in to help stop the spread of the virus.
His presentation followed discussions with businesses in the north-east which were able to access “lifeline” support such as the coronavirus job retention scheme and cuts to VAT.
He has already approached both the UK and Scottish Governments asking them to support his proposals.
Mr Bowie said: “Over the weekend I spoke with a forum of local businesses which are massively thankful for the support of the UK and Scottish governments, but there are concerns about the future.
“I have put across their hopes to the Treasury and asked the SNP’s cabinet secretary to give outdoor events staff some hope for the future.”
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Mr Bowie has called for VAT reduction scheme to cut 5% for businesses in hospitality to be extended past January.
He has written to financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP, calling for it to remain in place until “such time when tourists return”.
He added: “While the support offered by the government has been a lifeline for many of them, they are concerned that owing to the seasonal nature of the hospitality and tourism industries the future viability of their businesses is still very uncertain.
“This concern is no doubt shared by other businesses particularly those in the rural tourism sector who see minimal numbers of visitors in the months leading up to April.”
Steve Barclay MP, the Treasury’s chief secretary, has been asked to explore the possibility of “bespoke support”, such as grants for caterers and venues.
Mr Bowie wrote: “Such a grant could be tailored to the size of the business, turnover and the number of employees.
“This would undoubtedly incentivise these companies to hold out in the short to medium term which in turn would help to prevent mass redundancies in this sector.”
And he has also urged the Scottish Government’s economy secretary Fiona Hyslop to provide a “roadmap” to allow events venues and suppliers to plan ahead.
Mr Bowie wrote: “These businesses need urgent clarity on a range of issues so that they can start attempting to plan for the future.
“I am concerned that without guidance, many of these companies and smaller individual suppliers will struggle to plan for the future and as a result go out of business.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s hospitality and events industry is vital to our economy and to the cultural identity of Scotland which is why we took immediate steps to address the financial impact of Covid-19 and our response – which now exceeds £2.3 billion – includes a support package specifically aimed at the tourism and hospitality sector. We have also now put in place a £230 million Restart the Economy capital stimulus package and are prioritising work to tackle unemployment.
“The risk of Covid-19 spreading in environments such as live events where a number of people are gathered together means, sadly, the format as we know it may have to adapt for some time to come.
“On Monday, as part of the first steps for the event sector recovery, we announced that drive-in events can open from Wednesday. We would encourage our local communities and events sector to work together to be creative and consider the possibilities of drive-in live events – from music concerts and local bingo nights, to family theatre and a reimagining of some of our most loved annual live events.”
“We are continuing to explore means through which to support the events sector, including the Events Industry Advisory Group, recognising it is likely to be one of the last to fully restart, and will continue to press the UK Government over financial assistance schemes, to ensure they are delivering for businesses in Scotland – particularly for sectors that have been hard hit and unlikely to recover quickly.
“We will respond to the letter from Mr Bowie in due course.”