Stirling MP Backs Letter Demanding Hospitality Sector Support from Chancellor

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Categories: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Culture and Tourism, Food and Drink, Local Business, UK Government (Westminster)

Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith has co-signed a letter with the All-Party Group of MPs for Hospitality and Tourism, demanding that the Chancellor do more to support the hospitality and tourism industries during the pandemic crisis.

The letter will be delivered to the Chancellor as the UK government prepares to unveil their Budget on the 3rd March. It points out that UK hospitality saw a 53.8% drop in sales last year – a loss of £72 billion, or around 2% of the UK’s overall GDP.

In the letter, MPs are calling for the Chancellor to extend the VAT reduction to 5% for another 12 months and for this to cover the ‘broad hospitality industry’, including alcoholic drinks sold on premises, the leisure sector, and weddings. In addition, the letter calls for a 100% business rates holiday for these sectors to be extended for another 12 months – something that the Scottish Government has already committed to doing.

Alyn Smith MP said:

“In normal times, Stirling is one of Scotland’s focal points for tourism. Or rich history and spectacular natural heritage makes Stirling a prime location for visitors to come and see. As such, the local Stirling economy is configured around this, with hospitality and tourism-related businesses being a key sector and a major employer in the area.

“To date, these businesses have had a 100% reduction in business rates over the past 12 months, paid for by the Scottish Government. In addition, many have had access to some of the business support mechanisms that the Scottish Government has made available through the local Council. And, after a short campaign from SNP MPs and others, these businesses have had a 5% VAT reduction.

“But we’re not out of the woods yet. As we look to relaxing some of these restrictions in a cautious way in the weeks and months to come, hospitality and tourism businesses are going to need all the support they can get. It’s crucial that the UK government gets this right this time, or there’s a real risk of business closures and job losses.

“As Scotland does not have the legal power to borrow in the same way the UK Treasury does, I hope the Chancellor will listen to this call from a cross-party group of MPs, and commit spending to where it needs to be at the UK Budget.”

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