Scottish government has its priorities right says Highland MSP

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes who has demanded an apology from Tories over the comments about Gaelic language teaching in schools. NO F05 Kate Forbes
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes

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The Scottish Government’s commitment to the fishing industry over second home owners has been praised by MSP Kate Forbes.

The endorsement came after it emerged the UK Government’s emergency business support scheme is paying out millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to wealthy second-home owners in England.

Under the Scottish equivalent, vacant second homes cannot claim business grants, which has enabled funding to be shared more widely with genuine businesses. To date, the Scottish Government’s support to the fishing industry totals almost £23 million.

Ms Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: ‘There are so many small businesses struggling at the moment, that it is important support goes to as many as possible.

‘That’s why it is so galling to see potentially millions of pounds going to second home owners in England, whilst fishermen rely on little more than Universal Credit.

‘That is not the case in Scotland, because the Scottish Government ensured second home owners don’t qualify for grants and more genuine small businesses can get support.

‘In Highland coastal communities, fishermen will get help, as will the newly self-employed and non-rates paying businesses.’

Ms Forbes stated a number of short-term lets in Scotland, and especially the Highlands, has risen dramatically in recent years and in some areas locals are finding it increasingly difficult to find homes.

Last year, a Scottish Government study showed that almost one in five dwellings on the Isle of Skye is now an AirBnB – 1,083 listings for 5,813 dwellings.

Some second homes register as a business and the owners avoid paying council tax. Because such properties may be on the Non Domestic Rates roll, in England they can access the £10,000 UK Government grant designed to support small businesses struggling to survive the impact of coronavirus.