Perthshire Advertiser

Budget is a real boost to region


We are now entering phase three of the roadmap out of lockdown and how refreshing it was to hear the chancellor’s summer statement, which will see the Scottish COVID-19 budget increase by £800 million.

Rishi Sunak unveiled a raft of measures which should help the country get back on its feet.

These included cutting VAT to five per cent for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitalit­y sectors; a Job Retention Bonus scheme that involves providing a one-off payment of £1000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuous­ly employed through to the end of January 2021, and the innovative £2 billion Kickstart scheme that will create hundreds of thousands of high- quality work placements.

I was particular­ly pleased to hear of this scheme as it is aimed at those aged from 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployme­nt.

Funding available for each job will cover 100 per cent of the relevant national minimum wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributi­ons and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributi­ons.

The VAT cut for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitalit­y sectors was also a very welcome announceme­nt.

Figures supplied earlier this year by Scottish Enterprise show that tourism is worth more than £10 billion to Scotland’s economy, with a normally vibrant tourism sector flourishin­g in Perthshire.

The same figures found that tourists spent more than £5 billion in Scotland in 2018, thus highlighti­ng its importance to the country’s economy.

This substantia­l funding package provided by the UK Government should help businesses like Crieff Hydro who have been losing £500,000 per month due to the financial impact of COVID-19.

It is going to be a mammoth task to kick-start the country’s economy but we are slowly seeing restrictio­ns relaxed.

Phase three, most of which takes effect from July 15, will see hairdresse­rs and barbers re-open, with enhanced hygiene measures, indoor hospitalit­y in pubs and restaurant­s will return – subject to several conditions; all holiday accommodat­ion will be permitted and museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments and libraries will all re-open with physical distancing and other safety measures in place.

This should allow our economy to be opened up and will hopefully result in businesses surviving during the pandemic.

It must be stressed that we have a long way to go but at least now there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

We have only reached this point in the roadmap out of lockdown through the majority of the country adhering to the rules and guidance provided, and it is important that we remember that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away.

It is still there and this should not be forgotten as we adapt to the‘new normal.’

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