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McArthur calls for further intervention to protect Orkney’s economy

Liam McArthur MSP

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, has called for “more to be done” to support Orkney’s economy, as a report published by the Social Market Foundation indicates that Orkney may have the second highest percentage of jobs at risk in Scotland as a result of the pandemic.

The report produced by the think tank has calculated the proportion of jobs “facing a moderate or severe impact” because of coronavirus, broken down by region.

In Orkney that figure is suggested to be 68 per cent — the second highest in Scotland.

Mr McArthur said: “Making predictions about the future is not easy in these uncertain times, but it’s clear that some parts of the country face particular challenges as the exit from lockdown puts more strain on certain sectors than others.

“Orkney has a diverse economy, but is heavily reliant, both directly and indirectly, on tourism.  The loss of income as a result of fewer visitors this year will have an impact on so many local businesses, from food producers to accommodation providers; from hospitality and retail to the delivering transport services.

“These figures from the Social Market Foundation bear out the findings of recent local surveys of businesses in Orkney and should therefore be taken seriously.  Whether it’s a cut in VAT on domestic tourism from 20 per cent  to five per cent, or a 12 month support package to tide businesses over to summer 2021, the UK and Scottish Governments need to respond positively and recognise there is more to be done.

“Likewise, the local business community in Orkney has presented Orkney Islands Council with a range of proposals for helping recover and rebuild our island economy. These proposals should be given serious consideration.  As we emerge from this pandemic, there is an opportunity to build back stronger, but this report highlights the very real risks if this opportunity is not taken.”

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