Budget Update

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th December 2020.

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Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

I thank the member for that series of questions; I will answer them as quickly as I can.

On the tourism money, our approach to date has always been to design those schemes in partnership with the individual sectors. For example, the hotel recovery group was set up in conjunction with the Scottish Tourism Alliance, and on self-catering, we have worked in conjunction with the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers. We intend to take the same approach now. I referred to self-catering because we intend to provide funding to self-catering as part of the money that was announced.

With regard to the discretionary fund, one of the reasons for making an announcement today was to give councils an indication of where we will provide sector-based support so that they can use their discretionary funding for other purposes. That money needs to be targeted to their local area. For example, business need on the Isle of Skye will be different from business need in the middle of Glasgow, so we want to allow maximum discretion. During the past three weeks, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has agreed internally how it wants to distribute the fund, and we have then agreed the general guidance, which is as high level as possible.

On the non-domestic rates relief money that will be returned to us, I wrote today to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to seek urgent clarity. If those funds are to be collected centrally by the Treasury, we need clarity on how they will be redistributed to the devolved Governments. In the past few days, there have been a lot of calls with the Treasury to understand what is happening. Not all devolved Governments can actually receive the money—it is essentially a donation, and donations are not normally made to Governments, so clarity is required on how those refunds will be made.

As I have done in the past and will do again, I encourage anyone who is in a similarly resilient position to that of Tesco and other supermarkets to consider whether they can contribute to those funds.