ABRS meet with Scottish Government

Posted on 22nd February 2021

Lesley McCourt, George Baber (ABRS Trustee) and Anne Comrie (ABRS Member) have been invited to meet on Monday 22nd February, 2021 with the Scottish Government (Joe Brown, Head of Strategic Engagement and Co-ordination in the Directorate of Economic Development) for a sector discussion on the plight of riding school and trekking businesses in Scotland.  We have prepared a paper that sets out in clear terms the key issues, this is outlined below. We welcome greatly the opportunity for direct discussions, allowing us to present the undiluted case to Government and to work with them to find a way forward.  We will report back following our meeting.

Licensed Riding Schools Summary

Funding Streams

Riding Schools have had the following issues with funding streams:

“Sports and other facilities no longer able to provide group exercise, includes dance studios, exercise class/yoga studios”.

will qualify for support, every riding school that has applied to the fund has been rejected.  Rejections have included that:

Business Gateway has also informed that riding schools form part of a “list” of businesses that are not eligible.

On review of the relevant legislation and Government guidance, we can find no provision which would exclude riding schools from the receipt of funding via the Business Restrictions Fund.  In continuing to trade during Level 3, riding schools were clearly impacted by the imposition of legislative restrictions.  Riding schools have been required to:

Whilst these examples are not exhaustive, they have all been experienced by riding schools and are all examples of business restrictions and are not restrictions on the person.  Additionally, as riding schools have previously been rejected from this fund, they have been unable to access the top-up fund of at least an additional £6,000.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Clackmannanshire Council (population 51,400) have received 77 applications to the Business Restrictions Fund in total with only 21 of these being successful. Our interpretation of this data is that it is unduly difficult for any business to access this funding stream.

There is no funding in place to support riding schools in level 4 as we have been informed that even if they were eligible to apply to the Business Restrictions Fund, this fund is not accessible in level 4.

In summary, we do not expect that riding schools should be provided with grant funding simply because they apply to a particular funding stream.  On the contrary, we fully support the application of objective eligibility criteria to aid effective decision making.  However, at present our local authorities are avoiding such objective decision making: “you’re not on the list” and this is wholly unacceptable.

Key Objectives:

Scottish Government to write to Local Authorities to confirm that Riding Schools:

Scottish Government considers and approves the use of the Business Restrictions Fund for Tier 4.

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