Following the decision by the Scottish government to exclude deer forests, game larders and shooting ground from a much needed Covid-19 support grant, BASC has today written an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP.
The UK’s largest shooting organisation is also encouraging shooting businesses affected by the issues outlined in the letter to contact their local MSP about the specific implications and ask for support.
Dear Cabinet Secretary,
Re: Exclusion of Shooting Businesses from Financial Support
We write to you today as a matter of urgency on behalf of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to bring to your attention what appears to be a significant oversight with respect to the Scottish government’s financial support for businesses in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Small Business Support Grant
The small business support grant – which constitutes a one-off £10,000 grant – has been made available to small businesses in Scotland to help contend with financial hardships associated with Covid-19. This is a welcome and much-needed grant which could prove instrumental to the survival of small businesses. Such a provision is particularly important in rural areas where the economy is most fragile.
Unfortunately, we were deeply disappointed to see that businesses operating on a number of key rural sites – including deer forests, game larders and shooting grounds – would be ineligible for such a grant. It is the view of the association that the exclusion of these sites associated with the sporting interest is discriminatory and unjust. We very much hope that this has been the result of an oversight rather than a conscious decision. We urge you to address this by removing deer forests, game larders and shootings from the list of excluded sites.
Sporting businesses make a stalwart contribution to Scotland, and are the backbone of the economy in rural areas. Unfortunately, many businesses are facing unprecedented hardships in the current climate with cancellations of bookings in the immediate and distant future. It is the view of the association, therefore, that the payment of sporting rates in the current climate is not appropriate nor fair. We urge you to address this by removing the requirement to pay sporting rates with immediate effect.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Support Grant
Shooting businesses make a critical contribution to Scotland’s tourism industry. According to a report published in 2015, the overall value of country sports tourism in Scotland is circa £50 million. We are therefore disappointed that shooting businesses have been excluded from the retail, hospitality and leisure support grant. The clients brought to Scotland by shooting businesses often utilise other retail, hospitality and leisure businesses during their visit. It is likely that these businesses will also suffer as a result of the lack of sporting clientele in the forthcoming deer stalking and game shooting seasons. We urge you to address this by making shooting businesses eligible to apply for the retail, hospitality and leisure support grant.
We appreciate that you have had to make decisions decisively in light of the fast-moving nature of this situation. However, it is clear that a number of oversights have been made. It is now incumbent on the Scottish Government to rectify the lack of support as a matter of urgency and bring to an end the worry and concern that is developing among rural businesses. We trust that you will do so as soon as is feasibly possible and we look forward to hearing from you.