First Minister Humza Yousaf announced the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, its legislative plan for the year ahead.
Childcare and housing
Reducing poverty, delivering growth, tackling climate change and providing high-quality public services were included as ‘top priorities’ for the year ahead.
As part of these priorities, there were announcements to:
Expand access to funded childcare, helping parents back into work.
Deliver a new £15 million support package to unleash entrepreneurial talent.
Make £25 million available from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget to identify homes for key workers in rural communities.
Our Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said: “As a sector contributing almost £8 billion to the economy and employing 170,000 people across Scotland, hospitality is a key partner for the Scottish Government in creating a wellbeing economy.
“By offering good jobs in every part of the country, hospitality can help reduce poverty and stimulate the economic growth our country needs.
“The £25 million for housing in rural areas is very positive and we would welcome conversations on how this can be used to help support hospitality businesses retain and attract workers.
“The measures to increase childcare provision will also allow parents who want to re-enter the workforce to do so, and hospitality is well-equipped to help with flexible roles.
“With hospitality’s tradition of innovation, the entrepreneurial start-up fund is also a good addition to drive business growth and development.”
New Deal for Business Group and business rates
The First Minister committed to implementing the recommendations of the New Deal for Business Group, which included keeping all non-domestic rates policy reform under review and reviewing the administrative and digital processes of the system.
We have been calling for a commitment from the Scottish Government that rates will not rise with inflation in April next year, but this was not included in the programme.
Leon said: “It was disappointing not to hear any plans in the Programme for Government to address the multi-million pound hike in business rates facing hospitality businesses in April. Without action, hospitality’s potential to deliver economic growth, create jobs and help communities is seriously curtailed.
“We will continue to discuss with the Scottish Government the need for relief on business rates and reform of a system that sees our businesses paying higher levels of tax than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK. This is stifling investment and employment.”
While the commitment to implement the recommendations from the New Deal for Business Group is positive, we highlighted in our response the “the imminent challenges” still facing the sector.
Leon said: “The imminent challenges of Scottish Government regulation, the visitor levy, Deposit Return Scheme and proposals to restrict alcohol marketing and promotion remain on the near horizon.
“I would urge the Scottish Government to keep working with us to address these challenges, with a particular focus on business rates and reviewing unnecessary regulation.”