Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has expressed his disappointment that the Scottish Government has failed to consider introducing a high street voucher scheme.

The Northern Irish government has introduced a £145 million high street stimulus scheme and will give £100 to each adult in Northern Ireland to spend on high streets.

The Scottish Retail Consortium has suggested that a similar retail voucher or high street stimulus scheme could play ‘a valuable role’ in enticing shoppers back to the streets of Scotland after the impact of pandemic restrictions.

Colin Smyth raised the subject with Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth Tom Arthur in the Scottish Parliament last Tuesday (October 26).

Colin Smyth said: “The minister said that the run-up to Christmas is the most critical trading period of the year for retail—it is make or break for many.

“However, there was nothing in his statement to ensure that it is a case of make, rather than break.

“Why has the Government not considered a proper high street voucher scheme, which has been called for by Labour and the Scottish Retail Consortium, to give a real stimulus to our high street, rather than the very limited Scotland Loves Local gift card, which consumers have to pay for themselves?”

Colin Smyth added: “The minister has said he will look at what is happening in Northern Ireland and monitor how successful the scheme is but that really isn’t good enough.

“Our shops have suffered hugely during the pandemic and a voucher scheme could have been key to the recovery of our retail sector.

“High streets across the south of Scotland were on their knees before the pandemic but now we are seeing more and more empty units every week. We must do everything we can, and I will continue to press the government on this issue.”

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