Government business help | call for assistance from industry amid recession concerns

Scotland's business leaders have called for more support in the face of the bleak economic outlook.

The Bank of England raised interest rates to 1.75 percent and issued a warning that inflation is now expected to exceed 13 percent.

More UK and Scottish government support are required, according to retail and license trade organizations, in advance of an anticipated slump.

The Scottish government has stated that helping the lowest paid is a top priority.

According to the Scottish Retail Consortium's (SRC) most recent figures, foot traffic decreased by 16.5% compared to pre-pandemic levels in July and by 0.7% from June.

The drop exceeded the 14.2% UK average.

The persistent cost-of-living issue, rail strikes, and the summer heat wave were all cited as causes.

Head of policy at the SRC Ewan MacDonald-Russell stated to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: "There is little indication that Scottish consumers will soon resume their pre-pandemic shopping habits as the year goes on.

"Big ticket things are less expensive in fact, and we are aware that consumers are switching from premium to value products and reducing their current spending.

"We need to take action to reduce the burden of high company taxes, and we need to aid consumers, especially those who are less well off."

There is no room for "half measures" in the UK government's autumn budget, Mr. MacDonald-Russell continued, adding that "bold and punchy" actions to assist consumers are required.

In the meantime, a poll of 100 companies conducted by the Night Time Industries Association Scotland revealed that 38% of respondents were "unsure" about their ability to survive over the coming year due to rising prices.

The pressure is being felt throughout the hospitality industry, according to Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), who also referred to the Bank of England's interest rate increase as "quite undesirable."

He stated: "The sector is still recovering slowly from the pandemic and subsequent cost-of-living problem.

"For our smaller operators, this lending rate increase may be simply too much.

"The VAT reduction during the epidemic was beneficial to business, and Eat Out To Help Out was a success. Since we now lack such, we favor a reduction in the licensee hospitality sector's VAT as well as a thorough examination of the business rates."

'Significant support'

Ivan McKee, the minister for business in the Scottish government, stated that he will "continue to call on the UK government to support the lowest paid in our communities."

"We would urge the UK government to do something similar," he continued, noting that the Scottish government has invested around £3 billion in support for low-income families.

"VAT is a reserved topic for the UK government, and we've urged them to consider solutions there to be able to support businesses in this challenging period," the statement reads.

According to Mr. McKee, the Scottish government has given the business rates system "substantial support" to aid firms in surviving the pandemic.

The UK government "stood behind the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic with a £400bn package of economy-wide support that saved millions of jobs and offered a lifeline to thousands of night-time businesses up and down the country," a Treasury spokesman said in response to calls for increased support for the industry.

"We went further in the Spring Statement, announcing a £1,000 boost to the Employment Allowance, which would lower taxes for thousands of bars, clubs, and venues across Scotland," he continued.

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