Yesterday’s confirmation by the Scottish Government that hospitality and tourism businesses will not pay rates until next year offers businesses a “much-needed lifeline”, according to trade body the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

The SLTA, which has been calling for an extension to the existing rates holiday, welcomed the decision and said the announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was a “weight off our collective shoulders”. SLTA spokesman Paul Waterson said: “Extending 100% rates relief for the next financial year gives pubs, hospitality and tourism a fighting chance when we do re-emerge from lockdown.

“However, what we need now is for UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in his Budget on March 3, to keep VAT at 5% and also extend current furlough arrangements. While rates are generally the biggest fixed rate costs for the hospitality industry, we look forward to further concessions that will help businesses.”

Mr Waterson also said that the while the SLTA welcomed today’s announcement, it was imperative that businesses had a clear route map for the easing of lockdown restrictions. “We look forward to hearing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for getting out of lockdown and, crucially, some dates – even if they are provisional.

“The news that there is to be a £50 million package of support for Scotland’s town centres and more capital funding specifically for tourism infrastructure projects in local communities is also very good news.”

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