Finlay Carson MSP

Galloway and West Dumfries

At Last Lifeline for B&Bs And Guesthouses

Their doors have been firmly closed for months costing them thousands of pounds in lost bookings despite the bills continuing to mount up.

Now Scotland’s army of hard-pressed guesthouses, B&Bs and small self-catering businesses are finally to be thrown a financial lifeline.

Plans have been drawn up to create a special fund to provide much-needed financial assistance to the key sector in the coming weeks.

Exact details are still being finalised including when the fund - which will be administered by local authorities - will be open to receive grant applications

But ministers at the Scottish Government have now agreed that small accommodation providers paying council tax will be eligible to receive grants from the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund.

It means financial support will finally be given to B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catering businesses who had previously failed to qualify under the strict criteria previously laid out.

Scottish shadow rural affairs minister Finlay Carson has welcomed the news having lobbied the Scottish Government for more than a year to secure financial help.

He said: “I have written to both Kate Forbes, the Scottish finance cabinet secretary as well as Fergus Ewing, the cabinet secretary for rural economy and tourism urging them to help this sector.

“At the same time I have been in contact with local authorities to ensure that nobody falls through the gap and they receive the assistance they desperately need to remain in business.

The Scottish Conservative MSP has also worked closely with officials from the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers to raise the plight of its 17,500-strong membership.

Mr Carson added: “This is a positive result for the sector and I am delighted they will now receive assistance having previously been denied any help.

“There has been a lot of frustration and anger which I can fully appreciate given that many of the businesses have been denied bookings, valuable income while their overheads continue to mount up regardless.

“Like so many others they have lost out through no fault of their own because of the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Hopefully this will now help many of them to remain in business a little longer until they can start to open up again.”

Last month the Scottish Conservative MSP raised the issue at Holyrood when he quizzed the Scottish Government over the level of financial support it was providing to the country’s self-catering businesses.

He said: “Given that pubs and restaurants get a £6,000 top up on the SFBF why is this not being extended to the self-catering sector?”