The MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie and the MP for Lanark and Hamilton East, Angela Crawley have welcomed new support for hard-hit businesses announced by the Scottish Government.

A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses and ports and harbours threatened by the ongoing effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU Exit.

The package includes:

  1. £6.45 million for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund which will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of COVID-19
  2. £1 million to be made available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees
  3. up to £300,000 to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission in recognition of the hardship facing people working in the sector at this time

Christina and Angela have been working closely with businesses across their constituencies who are involved in these sectors to make sure their concerns are being addressed.

Christina said:

“We are starting to see the very real bite of Brexit on our economy. Rather than the oven-ready deal we were promised Boris has left us with rotting seafood. I had visited companies locally before Brexit who had invested substantial sums in preparing for the huge increase in bureaucracy but what they are having to deal with is worse than anyone could have reasonably prepared for.

”Angela and myself have been working closely with local businesses affected to make sure their concerns are being heard at all levels of government. This vital lifeline from the Scottish Government will bring a sigh of relief to our world leading seafood sector in a time of great uncertainty.

“It is time for the UK Government to pull the finger out and properly support the companies they have landed in this mess with their out of touch Brexit obsession.

Angela said:

“Despite promises to the contrary, leaving the world’s largest single market has presented huge barriers for local employers.

“Exporters of fresh seafood based in my constituency have already lost out on millions of pounds in reduced custom, ruined produce and additional administration.

“And whilst welcome, the funding announced by the UK Government doesn’t come close to meeting the fall in revenue experienced by exporters as a result of these changes.

“The Tories must remove the bureaucracy, allow fresh seafood to flow from Scotland to the EU and until they do, provide adequate funding to ensure local businesses can continue to thrive.”

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“In the absence of any further clarity on resilience funding from the UK Government we are stepping in to support the industry and coastal communities across Scotland and ensuring we meet the emergency needs of crews by providing welfare support through the Fishermen’s Mission. In addition to this funding, last week we also supported calls for a new dedicated task force, and announced funding for two new experts to help businesses navigate the new processes and requirements.

“Both shellfish and trout businesses who have faced losses due to COVID-19 hospitality closures across Europe are now losing products or facing additional costs due to border disruption and new non-tariff barriers. It’s not just exporting, we know this has serious knock-on effects that ripples right through the supply chain from boats struggling to land at ports to not being able to sell their catch.

“The fund for shellfish and trout businesses will help the sector survive the ongoing loss of domestic sales due to COVID-19 and the current immediate challenges of Brexit, giving them some breathing space and allowing businesses to make the changes they need to adapt to the new, tougher, trading realities.