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MSP seeks support for DG hospitality

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By Fiona Reid
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MSP seeks support for DG hospitality

SOUTH Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has written to the Scottish Government to consider providing rates relief to rural hospitality businesses.

It comes after she was contacted by many hospitality businesses across Dumfries and Galloway following the Scottish Government’s budget last month.

Within that was a commitment to recognising the specific challenges faced by the hospitality sector in island communities. To this end, the Scottish Government has committed to offering 100 per cent rates relief in 2024-25 for hospitality businesses located on islands as defined by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018, capped at £110,000 per business.

However, Ms Harper has asked whether consideration could be given to include rural businesses across Dumfries and Galloway in the relief scheme.

She has pointed out they are “in locations which are equally remote and rural”.

The MSP added: “Indeed, rural hospitality businesses face similar challenges to those on the islands in terms of staff recruitment, rurality and attracting visitors.

“I have had numerous constituency cases recently, since the lifting of rates relief for all businesses in Scotland, from local businesses which have received significant rates bills from Dumfries and Galloway Council. These bills are leading to financial hardship for many rural hospitality businesses. Impacted businesses include the Selkirk Arms in Kirkcudbright, numerous B&Bs and smaller businesses.

“This ask is one of fairness – it is about ensuring fairness for hospitality business in rural areas, like Dumfries and Galloway.”

Reacting, Chris Walker of the Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright, said: “It seems that the Scottish Government want to continue to hit hospitality with a big stick, all we are asking is for parity with our fellow hospitality businesses on the islands and in England who enjoy 75 per cent rates relief and indeed, if on the islands, no rates.

“With increases in tax and a hospitality industry under threat, it doesn’t send a signal to the rest of the world that Scotland is a welcoming place to come and do business.”

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