New Scottish First Minister urged to champion hospitality

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Looking to the future: Trade bodies hope for a new leader who will tackle hospitality's problems (Scottish Government/Flickr)
Looking to the future: Trade bodies hope for a new leader who will tackle hospitality's problems (Scottish Government/Flickr)

Related tags Legislation Scotland Nicola Sturgeon ukhospitality Scottish licensed trade association

Trade bodies are hoping for a new First Minister who will put business first and protect hospitality, after Nicola Sturgeon announced she would step down as the leader of Scotland’s government.

Nicola Sturgeon said she would step down for personal reasons in a shock announcement yesterday (Wednesday 15 February). 

“I’m not expecting violins here,” she said at a press conference, “but I am a human being as well as a politician”. 

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) managing director Colin Wilkinson said the trade body wished Sturgeon all the best for what would come next and looked forward to working with her successor. 

However, he added that this was a challenging time for the sector amid a cost-of-living crisis and ongoing economic pressures. 

Wilkinson continued: “[The] SLTA has many concerns – not least the looming Deposit Return Scheme implementation and the cumulative impact of proposed regulation on alcohol advertising and promotion on our sector. 

“We also urgently need meaningful intervention on business rates as we navigate an economic crisis exacerbated by train strikes, poor late-night public transport and lack of taxi provision in some towns and cities.” 


This comes after the Scottish government came under fire last December for not announcing business rates relief for​ hospitality in its Budget, with trade bodies warning this could wipe out pubs. 

Furthermore, the sector had previously called for VAT rates to be dropped which, while not a devolved issue, would “greatly help” businesses, according to Wilkinson.  

Sturgeon’s announcement came as a surprise to many and there is no clear successor lined up. She has said she will remain in office until a replacement is elected by her party. 

“We hope Sturgeon’s successor will adopt a ‘business first’ agenda in order to protect businesses and jobs, and stimulate economic growth,” added Wilkinson. 

Tackling pressures

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said it was “essential” the new First Minister recognised the importance of the sector, with hospitality delivering £9m to the Scottish economy, employing 200,000 people and attracting millions more in tourism. 

Last month, the trade body headed a letter​ to the Scottish government’s finance and public administration committee, highlighting the urgent need for short-term business rates relief to ease the burden on businesses.  

Thompson hopes Sturgeon’s successor will work with hospitality to create an environment that is fit-for-purpose, practical and works for businesses. 

“With the right approach, we can tackle the pressures the sector is under, while at the same time unleashing the potential of hospitality in creating growth and jobs,” he added. 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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