Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil says criteria for the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme (SDSS) must be altered to ensure that parts of the sector do not miss out on vital funding.
Mr MacNeil has tabled questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to ask that the criteria and funding allocation for this scheme be looked at again and to ensure that the correct support is available.
Commenting Mr MacNeil said: “The damage done to our seafood sector because of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal is being widely felt across Scotland.
“I have great concerns that the UK Government’s Seafood Disruption Support Scheme does not go far enough to compensate the seafood sector for their financial losses.
“The scheme asks that the sector needs to prove verifiable financial losses, but this is not wide ranging enough criteria for those who have had to cancel orders, had customers cancel orders or have had to freeze product resulting in 80% less product value, as well as the groupage issues many have faced while exporting to market.
“The industry has also rightly expressed their disappointment in the narrow criteria for the scheme today. There has been no consultation with the industry about this scheme, it has simply been prescribed to them.”
The Chief Executive of Seafood Scotland, Donna Fordyce, earlier commented “We hoped the £23m would go some way to alleviating the pressure, while the existing problems could be resolved. However, the initial industry feedback today is one of disappointment, with many companies instantly realising they will be ineligible for support.
She further stated “It’s probable that these companies will never be fully compensated for what they have lost and are still losing, but the damage could still be limited if the systems were workable and export gets back on track quickly.”
Mr MacNeil added “I am calling on the Chancellor to expand the criteria for this scheme, £23 million will not go far enough to account for the losses faced by the industry. It has been 40 days since the Tories disastrous Brexit came into play, the Scottish fishing industry estimate that Brexit is costing them over £1 million a day meaning that this scheme already needs to be greater and so I urge the Chancellor to top up this scheme.
“When the Chancellor set up this scheme it was so that people who were losing money would be able to access this fund. This should not be a labyrinth of bureaucracy to prevent those who have lost money from the Government’s Brexit deal, to not access that money, because of rules the Government have created. If we compare this to last January then people have lost money due to this carry on.
“The SDSS alone will not help solve the issues faced by the industry, but it is important that the scheme is done correctly and is wide ranging enough to compensate for the losses faced. The UK Government needs to work with the fishing sector to help alleviate the delays and issues from getting their perishable goods to market, as this is not just a one off disruption but rather an ongoing issue.”
Further details about The Seafood Disruption Support Scheme (SDSS) can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/23-million-seafood-disruption-support-scheme-now-open