Fife’s golf clubs are in need of greater support and clarity amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a local MP.
The region’s courses are vital to the area’s economy but clubs are worried they will hit financial turmoil when it comes to reopening.
North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain has urged the Scottish Government to give clearer guidance and additional support in recognition of their unique predicament.
Concerns were voiced at a meeting of golf clubs and organisations with Liberal Democrat Mrs Chamberlain and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath independent MP Neale Hanvey.
As many clubs’ rateable values exceed £51,000 on account of their extensive land, they are not eligible for business grants.
There were also worries that some clubs feel pressure to reopen sooner than is safe, if left to interpret flexible guidance rather than mandatory rules.
When furloughed staff return there are concerns about a sudden stop to financial support.
Mrs Chamberlain said: “As the Member of Parliament representing St Andrews, the home of golf, I am keen to see all that golf courses get support where it is needed.
“Like many businesses and organisations which are viable and thriving in normal circumstances, golf clubs and courses additional and tailored support at this time.
“They are a vital part of the north east Fife economy.
“Many clubs are concerned that when they reopen and un-furlough their staff, the economic support is halted before clubs have the ability to open their shops and club houses, leaving them in a financially precarious position with large overheads and reduced income.
“I hope the Finance Secretary and the Sports Minister will recognise the unique position golf clubs are in and consider implementing extra support and clearer guidance for golf clubs to assist them in these difficult times.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are acutely aware that this is a deeply worrying time for businesses. That is why we have put in place a £2.3 billion package of support for Scottish businesses. That includes 1.6% rates relief for all non-domestic properties in 2020-21 and 100% relief for properties in retail, hospitality, leisure and airports.
“Our £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund is part of our package of support for firms in those sectors not in receipt of non-domestic rate grants with awards of up to £25,000.
“This is part of a £100 million package of additional grant support for SMEs and newly self-employed people.
“Businesses in the hospitality sector with a rateable value of more than £51,000 are eligible to apply.”
“As the First Minister made clear, it is not yet safe to ease the restrictions because to do so would risk a rapid resurgence of the virus. We must all continue to stay at home except for essential purposes.
“Once restrictions start to be eased, clear guidance will be issued on how businesses can operate safely to protect customers, employees and their economic future.”
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