Beleaguered coach operators in Scotland are to become the first in the UK to receive sector specific grants to help weather the effects of COVID on their businesses, the Scottish Government announced this afternoon.
It is part of a £185m package of assistance to target business sectors in most need as a result of the pandemic with “almost £6m for coach companies and tour operators” says the Scottish Government.
It follows discussions with business groups and sees a wide range of sectors benefiting, from taxi drivers and arts venues to travel agents and hospitality.
In addition, there will be additional one-off payments (£2,000-£3,000) to hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand.
The package was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who also said she had written to the Treasury calling for Scotland to receive its share of rates relief reimbursed by supermarkets “to ensure this is spent on those areas hardest hit as part of Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19.”
More detail on the package will be announced in the coming days and businesses can expect to apply for all the new grant schemes in January.
Specific support detailed in today’s announcement includes:
- £15m for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers
- one-off grants totalling £15m for mobile close contact services, such as hairdressers
- a £19m fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers
- £5m for travel agents
- almost £6m for coach companies and tour operators
- £1.5m for visitor attractions
Ms Forbes said: “We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.
“We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8m for brewers.
“We will give £1.5m to travelling show people ineligible for other support, while a new £19m fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.
“Further support of £60m will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.
“I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our COVID-19 support offer within the available resources.”
CPT CEO Graham Vidler says: “Today’s announcement is welcome news for coach operators across Scotland who have suffered significantly during the pandemic.
“Coach operators provide essential services such as home to school and rail replacement journeys as well as helping get tourists to Scotland’s many tourist attractions. This funding will help support them through the winter with a view to getting back up and running next year.
“We will continue to push for similar support to be provided to all UK coach operators as a matter of urgency.”