‘We were let down’ say Scottish processors
Scotland’s seafood processors have accused both the Westminster and Holyrood governments of letting the sector down “in its hour of greatest need”.
Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association said that while members welcomed the promise of financial support, the £23m Seafood Disruption Scheme for the seafood industry pledged by the UK government to offset the impact of Brexit and Covid-19 only represented 50% of losses.
It also excluded larger businesses and those exporters which decided not to send larger consignments because the cost exceeded the value.
He said: “The truth is that while the financial support that has been forthcoming has been gratefully received, its partial nature means that businesses are being left in great difficulties in their hour of greatest need.
“There have been a lot of promises relating to smoothing the export path post-Brexit, but very few of them have been delivered.”
Buchan further criticised the UK government for failing to spell out how the £100m funding scheme promised for fisheries when the Brexit deal was signed at Christmas would work and which businesses would benefit.
He declared: “This funding package now looks like a convenient headline designed to appease the sector. When will they start taking bids, who will be eligible, when will pay-outs be made?
“We need to know, but we are greeted with silence on this at every turn.”
He also accused the Scottish government, which has set up its own scheme to compensate seafood producers and ports, for failing to use its devolved powers or funds to help the processing industry.
He said: “They have a £14m fund, yet there are no guidelines and application process in place. We know only that all projects must be for SMEs and completed by 31 March 2022 – far too tight a timetable for major works.”
Buchan said it was time for both governments to step up to the plate and back their promises with meaningful action.