He said the extra groups being included in the £66m financial package have not been affected by Public Health Scotland’s advice to defer Christmas parties at pubs, bars and restaurants until the new year.
“The announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to help the hospitality sector with a £100m support fund, following the slew of cancellations experienced by operators after Public Health Scotland (PHS) advised deferring Christmas parties until another time which was then endorsed by the Scottish Government, led the sector to believe that this financial support was to be focused on those most directly affected by the negative messaging and most in need of ‘aid’ – the licensed hospitality sector and the supply chain,” said Wilkinson.
Same level of support
He continued: “We believe the funding of £66m to the hospitality sector also includes cafes and takeaways – and even multinational fast-food outlets – well over 2,500 premises that certainly have not been affected directly by the PHS messaging to defer Christmas parties in Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants.
“It is utterly indefensible for businesses that have not experienced the decimation that has been caused to the licensed hospitality sector at this vital trading period to receive the same level of support funding as those hit hardest by the recent ‘tsunami’ of cancellations.
“How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets had cancellations for Christmas parties? How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets have seen business down 30% to 40% halfway through Christmas and new year? How many cafes, takeaways and fast-food outlets have seen average losses of £65,000 per premises for December so far?
Multinational fast-food sites ‘benefited’ in Covid
Wilkinson went on to claim most of these types of businesses, particularly multinational fast-food outlets, “have ‘benefited’ from the Covid pandemic over the past two years”.
He admitted some independent operators within this sector may well need some support but they were not specifically targeted with messaging that has “crippled the licensed hospitality industry”.
“We still await the final detail of how the £66m fund for the hospitality sector will be divided up but, potentially, a lot of Government funding will be misdirected to those far less in need of support than the battered and bruised licensed hospitality sector.
“And, even worse, those who have benefited from the Covid pandemic may well be getting a ‘bonus’ from the public purse.”