A Fife wedding venue forced to postpone more than 70 events has welcomed a new £25 million fund to help the sector.
But Samantha Nisbet, manager of Kinkell Byre near St Andrews, warned a one-off grant is not enough to keep businesses afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Professions including venues, photographers, caterers and suppliers can apply for up to £25,000 under the scheme, launched by the Scottish Government last week.
There is no equivalent fund in other parts of the UK.
‘Impossible to operate’
Ms Nisbet said the grant, while welcome, must be seen as the beginning of a process of support and not the only means of help for struggling venues.
“The coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for us to operate in any capacity,” she said.
No more than 20 guests were allowed at receptions and music and speeches were banned under previous Tier 3 restrictions.
Receptions cannot take place at all under current Tier 4 rules.
Many businesses are now falling deeper into debt as they struggle to keep the lights on.”
Wendy Chamberlain MP
Ms Nisbet said most brides and grooms were choosing to postpone their big day rather than have a lockdown wedding.
“For months our revenue has been reduced to virtually zero while our overhead costs still need to be paid to keep the business afloat,” she said.
“We need to pay for the upkeep of the old buildings, wages, insurance, marketing and professional services.
“While we appreciate the need to be cautious and put public safety first, and that this support is welcome, we also must see this as the beginning of a process of support as one-off payments and grants will not help us keep afloat while the pandemic goes on.”
‘We’ve been banging the drum for this support’
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain highlighted the plight of wedding venues in November.
She called on the UK Government to provide financial help, pointing out the wedding industry generates £10 billion and employs 400,000 across the UK.
Ms Chamberlain said she was pleased to see the Scottish Government had listened to local businesses.
She added: “We have been banging the drum for this support for months however, and many businesses are now falling deeper into debt as they struggle to keep the lights on until the end of the pandemic.
“We must ensure that this support is part of an ongoing process of defending and protecting businesses and that their ongoing concerns are not brushed under the carpet if this lockdown goes on for much longer than expected.”
Scottish finance minister Kate Forbes acknowledged the pandemic had had a severe impact on Scotland’s wedding sector.
“We know that the current restrictions, while entirely necessary in our fight against Covid-19, continue to take their toll on the sector,” she said.
“I’d encourage all those who think they are eligible to find out more about applying – we want to help as many businesses survive this pandemic as we can.”