Scottish Bakers provides clarity on government’s COVID guidance as new lead is sworn in

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish Bakers said its members have proved to be creative and adaptable through the pandemic and are hopeful their businesses can weather the storm. Pic: GettyImages/DarioGaona
Scottish Bakers said its members have proved to be creative and adaptable through the pandemic and are hopeful their businesses can weather the storm. Pic: GettyImages/DarioGaona

Related tags Scottish Bakers coronavirus furlough scheme work from home VAT

The national association – which has protected the interests of Scotland’s bakery trade for nearly 130 years – has sworn in Linda Hill from Murrays Bakers of Perth as president, and confirms its stance to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Hill will resume the duties of outgoing president Ronnie Miles of Bells Food Group, and will be supported by VP Ian McGhee of Glasgow-based McGhee’s Bakery.

“I am very proud of my business and I am proud to be a part of this industry, so becoming president of Scottish Bakers was an honour I was thrilled to accept,”​ said the fourth generation owner of the Perth-based bakery.

“Our world has changed so much as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the year has been traumatic for so many of us personally and professionally. I believe it is vital we pull together through the association to support our members as they in turn support their communities.”

The Scottish baking sector is definitely one of the unsung hero industries feeding communities with fresh daily bread, savoury snacks and sweet treats. More than 300 bakery businesses of all sizes embody their communities across Scotland, delivering around £1.4bn into the economy, a quarter of all food and drink manufacturing.

Combatting COVID

The sector is fully aligned to support the additional restrictive COVID measures announced by the Scottish Government last week to stem the tide of the pandemic.

Regarding the Hospitality Business Curfew – which has seen all catering establishments move to table service only  – Scottish Bakery has confirmed that this does not, however, apply to bakery cafes where counter service has been the established way to order.

According to the association, members can continue to operate as they have been with a full range of COVID measures to protect staff and customers in place.

It has also stated it welcomes the introduction of a more pro-active approach in Scotland to monitor compliance, in particular the partnership approach to enforcement rather than the Westminster’s Governments’ tactic of fining for non-compliance.

‘Car sharing’ is no longer encouraged, which, unfortunately, may cause challenges for bakers who work unsociable hours and often lift share not just for cost reasons but also for safety.

Scottish Bakers is advising all those who work from home to do so, adding that, if necessary, the Scottish Government will consider legal moves to ensure employers support their staff with this.

“Whilst Scottish Bakers recognises the need for this policy, it will come as a blow to those of our members who rely in part on passing breakfast and lunchtime trade from office and other workers, but again our members have proved creative and adaptable through this pandemic and we are hopeful their businesses can weather the storm,”​ it said.

Supporting people

The association welcomes the continued support by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his ‘winter economy plan’ to deal with the effects of the pandemic on people up and down the UK.

A new Job Support Scheme is coming into effect, in which the state will top up the wages of workers forced to cut their hours due to the pandemic. However, the scheme is aimed at protecting ‘viable’ roles rather than all the roles, which had been kept going due to the furlough scheme.

The support is targeted at ‘firms that need it the most’ and is open to all employers, even those that had not used the furlough scheme. Employers will pay for the hours worked, while the government will cover the remainder of the pay employees might have lost.

There will be a roll-out of a new support package for the self-employed, and VAT will be kept at 5% for hospitality and tourism, instead of the planned increase to 20%.

Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers, said, “It’s been yet another fast paced period of change to the way we live our lives and conduct business but these moves are necessary, measured and robust in Scotland and it has been good to be able to clarify for our members what has, and what has not changed. As always, as a sector, we stand ready to adapt whilst we continue to bake fresh products daily and support the communities we serve.”

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