Hospitality boss urges expansion of grant scheme to save struggling firms
The boss of a Scottish hospitality business has called for a grant scheme aimed at keeping companies afloat during the coronavirus outbreak to be expanded.
Duncan McConchie, the owner of the GG’s Yard wedding venue in Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway, said a number of firms face collapse if they cannot access Government support.
The 41-year-old, who is also a member of the South of Scotland Enterprise Board, called for some of the £330 billion of UK Government-backed loans to be repurposed into the grant scheme – which offers funding of up to £25,000 for hospitality businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
Mr McConchie said some of the money from the loan scheme should be used to increase the threshold of the grants for hospitality businesses.
The Scottish Government has announced a commitment to providing 100% business rates relief to hospitality firms for 12 months.
The grant scheme is administered by the Scottish Government north of the border.
Mr McConchie told the PA news agency: “The cut-off is £51,000 and there are so many businesses that are £52,000 up to £60,000 or £70,000 that are tourism businesses in this region and need access to those grants and they can’t get a penny.
“The grant scheme has to be the way. There has to be more grants available.
“Employee support is perfect but this £330 billion in loans, we have to transfer some of that back into grants.”
He warned: “If we miss this whole summer, then so many tourism businesses will vanish and never reopen.”
Mr McConchie said he “felt for” Government officials who have worked quickly to provide support for business.
The business applied to Dumfries and Galloway Council for a grant on Tuesday and hopes to receive funding within the next 10 days.
Staff are currently on furlough, with Mr McConchie pledging to pay them in full this week and 80% of their full wage next week.
He said: “The hopes are that the Government support will come back through to us pretty quickly.”
GG’s Yard has been forced to reschedule all events over the next three months but Mr McConchie is unsure when later events will be able to take place should they be forced to stay closed.
The business also has a £1 million restaurant project currently under construction that has now “ground to a halt”.
But the owners have committed to completing the build.