The Scottish government is using the current C19 crisis to force rural businesses from farms and estates to gamedealers out of business.
Using coronavirus payouts as cover, the Scottish government under Nicola Sturgeon is trying drive rural businesses involved in shooting into bankruptcy.
BASC calls the Scottish government’s decision to exclude deer forests, game larders and shooting grounds from a £10,000 coronavirus business support payment ‘discriminatory and unjust’ – though cabinet secretary for the rural economy and tourism Fergus Ewing MSP subsequently told BASC that sporting businesses had been ‘inadvertently excluded’ from much-needed support.
One businessowner in Aberdeenshire with three full-time equivalent employees says: “I am not a land owner – merely a tenant. I have no interest in the capital value of the land, and I have been on this ground for 32 years, We are not farmers or land owners, this is our only form of income.”
One of his workers has been with him for 25 years. Another, who recently recovered from prostate cancer, has worked for him for 18 years. “I am responsible for paying their council tax and rent,” he says. “This month I have had to cut their pay by 50% but feel that I will soon be unable to pay rent and council tax, you will then have the obligation to rehouse them.”
A BASC spokesman says: “Local authorities across Scotland have been tasked with issuing business support payments to help businesses contend with the coronavirus pandemic. Regrettably, the Scottish government have taken the decision to exclude the shooting businesses that are the backbone of Scotland’s rural economy.
“The decision has created widespread uncertainty across Scotland’s shooting businesses, with tangible concerns relating to the payment of staff salaries and accommodation costs. A number of businesses have contacted the association to highlight their concerns.”
A Perthshire sporting agent who has two full-time equivalent employees says: “We have lost all of our bookings for roe buck and red stag stalking, and have received very few bookings for the forthcoming game shooting season. The business is family-run, and I am concerned about the financial implications for my family. There will also be a knock on effect on the shoots and estates we send our clients to. We cannot understand why our legitimate, family business is being prohibited from applying for much-needed financial support.”
BASC Scotland’s political and press officer, Ross Ewing, said: “The Scottish Government’s decision to exclude shooting businesses from a critical one-off payment is wholly unacceptable. These businesses play an instrumental role in keeping Scotland’s rural economy going, and it is profoundly disappointing to see their contribution disregarded in this way.
“Shooting businesses and their employees are experiencing a time of unprecedented hardship. The cancellation of bookings in the immediate and distant future is a cause for serious concern.
“These businesses need support from the Scottish government now more than ever, and we are working hard to urge them to reconsider this exclusion.”
People can apply for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund on local authorities’ websites.