In response to the Chancellor’s Summer Statement and Scottish Government announcement, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said:
“As specifically called for by this Chamber, we are delighted to see VAT rate for hospitality and associated sectors – those hardest hit in the economy - reduced to 5% for six months. This should encourage people to put cash back into the tills of local businesses and support our tourism businesses by holidaying in the North-east.
“We have consistently said the only thing that will really get the economy moving is stimulating consumer confidence and demand and the messaging, especially from Scottish Government, has to support this.
“The Kick-start scheme will partly address the challenge of keeping our young people in employment and we await with interest how this will be applied in Scotland alongside all of the positive work being done under the Developing the Young workforce initiative.
“The housing market has also been stimulated in England and Northern Ireland through the temporary scrapping of Stamp Duty on properties under £500,000 and we expect Scottish Government to do likewise.
“Despite this, we believe today’s announcement highlights some missed opportunities. The UK wide ‘voucher’ scheme to incentivise people to go into pubs, cafes and restaurants early week is interesting and will be evaluated in August but we believe this should be extended to a wider scope including independent retailers.
“The £1,000 offered to employers for each job retained in January 21 will also make no material difference to businesses. The cost of this will be £9bn for the nine million people that have been registered on the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) and we believe this would be better channelled into a reduction in employer national insurance contributions or creating targeted, flexible variations to the JRS for the hardest hit sectors and firms.
“It is encouraging to see Scotland in closer alignment with rest of UK on air bridges but there are still some discrepancies which will add to confusion and limit confidence. Safely re-establishing all routes and getting our country moving again is vital. The connectivity and international outlook of the North-east is at severe risk if airlines choose to use the uncertainty as an excuse to move their fleets away from Aberdeen and onto different routes.
“We also continue to eagerly anticipate progress on the promised UK oil and gas sector deal that will underpin this vital industry, accelerate the net zero agenda and clearly position the Aberdeen city region as a global leader in energy transition."