Now is not the time for the Scottish Government to be political point-scoring

Updated: Mar 31

Last week, the Scottish Government announced the launch of a 'Coronavirus Business Support Fund'; a one-off grant of £10,000 to small businesses, to help keep companies afloat, and to protect jobs and promote economic recovery. An excellent idea in these uncertain times.

But these grants aren't for everyone, it would seem. Because for some strange reason, the Scottish Government have decided to exclude a number of businesses from the scheme: business properties such as game larders, deer forests, fishing huts, shootings or pigeon lofts are all ineligible for the grant.

So why would the Scottish Government have made this decision? As in the rest of the UK, fishing and shooting businesses form a large and vital part of Scotland’s rural economy, particularly in the more remote areas. Country sports tourism brings in well over £150 million per year to the Scottish economy, with grouse shooting, stalking and fishing all playing a huge part in attracting visitors and their spending money. It’s not just the businesses themselves who benefit from this; there are hundreds of rural businesses that benefit from these visitors, from hotel and bed and breakfast owners to clothing outlets , garages and local stores.

They also provibe vital employment to keepers, beaters and ghillies for fishing and – like businesses across the nation – will be desperately trying to work out how they can make sure their employees stay in work.

Now is not the time to be playing political games, or discriminating against certain sections of the community. We are in the middle of a health crisis which is also going to have drastic effects on the UK economy, be that rural or urban. What we should be doing is helping all businesses to get through this crisis, so they can emerge at the other end as financially secure as possible, and ready to get back up and running. Scoring points by excluding certain businesses isn’t the way to go about things – and it’s certainly not the time to be deliberately driving shooting and fishing businesses into bankruptcy.

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