Kate Nicholls

Why won’t the SNP do more to save Scotland’s pubs?

Credit: iStock

One of life’s simple pleasures is meeting up with friends at the local pub, catching up (or venting about the stress of a tough week) over good food and a couple of drinks. But unfortunately it’s becoming more and more difficult to do just that. Much-loved community assets, like the local pub, find themselves closing at a quicker rates than we have seen for years, particularly in Scotland. 

Why is this the case? There are a number of contributing factors, including the legacy of the pandemic, a barrage of rising costs and the impact of a cost-of-living crisis on consumer spending. But the real nail in the coffin has been the absence of any support from the Scottish government for two consecutive years. 

While their counterparts in England and Wales have benefitted from business rates schemes offering relief up to 75 per cent, Scottish businesses have been left to fend for themselves in one of the most challenging economic circumstances in recent memory. Having been widely criticised for its decision not to introduce an equivalent relief scheme in 2022, many hospitality companies were hopeful that when the Deputy First Minister set out her winter budget in December she would support businesses, especially after significant campaigning from ourselves at UKHospitality Scotland. And so, when no support was offered, Scotland’s hospital sector felt like it had been abandoned. It was hard to take, not least because the UK government had extended its own relief scheme for business and given the Scottish government millions of pounds to reciprocate support efforts.

The reality of this approach is stark. A typical Scottish pub will be £15,000 worse off than its equivalent in England. A medium-sized hotel will be £30,000 worse off. Larger businesses have been denied support worth up to £110,000. These are not sums of money that can be found down the back of the sofa.

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