Holyrood and Westminster governments must act now to ease crisis in hospitality   

By Bill Heaney

Pubs and restaurants could soon be forced to close at least two days a week.

Following new research that food and drink businesses are more likely than any other business to say they will cut trading.

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP has called on the Scottish and UK governments to take action to “ease a national crisis in Scotland’s hospitality industry.”

The Office for National Statistic’s Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) surveyed a range of hospitality businesses between 17th and 30th October.

The survey found that more than one in 20 businesses in the UK’s food and drink sector planned to cut trading for two or more additional days a week in November. 6% of food and drink businesses plan to cut their trading by two or more days a week in November, compared to 2% of all other businesses.

Food and drink business are also the most likely to reduce trading hours, even if they still operate for the same number of days (21%). That compares with just 3% of all other businesses.

 Mr Rennie said:   “Over the past few years, Scotland’s food and drink industry has faced mountain after mountain of challenges. Spiralling energy costs threaten to deepen the crisis. Cutting back on trading hours risks pushing workers who are already on insecure hours to a knife-edge.   

“The reality is that it is down to both governments to support Scotland’s hospitality sector.

“Unfortunately, the SNP has prioritised the wrong things. They have wasted money pointlessly testing four and five-year-olds, they are spending £20 million on splitting up with our biggest trading partner and they are planning to unleash a billion-pound bureaucratic takeover of Scotland’s health and social care.

“It’s about time the Scottish and UK governments worked together to support struggling businesses and ease a national crisis in Scotland’s hospitality industry. If they don’t, businesses across Scotland might not make it through winter.”

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