Scotland coach support fund: 25 first-round bids were rejected

Scotland coach operator support scheme information released

25 applications to the first round of the Scotland Coach Operators – COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund were rejected, scheme administrator Visit Scotland has disclosed. Those bids represented a potential injection of funding into the coach sector in Scotland of £1.257m, or an average of £50,280.

However, all £1.6m that was unallocated in the first stage from the £10m that eventually went to the scheme was subsequently transferred to a second round. That has less onerous requirements for the percentage of turnover that must be accounted for by tourism-related and private hire work, but per-vehicle award levels are also lower. The results of that second round are expected soon. 

For the first round of the fund, Visit Scotland says that 142 applications were received. 117 of those were approved. The 25 that were rejected “did not meet the criteria set out in the guidance document,” it adds.

Of the successful bids, 111 received money from the Fund. Visit Scotland notes that the outstanding six applicants declined an offer “as they chose to accept an award from a different fund.”  

It adds: “Businesses could only be successful and receive a grant award from one of the funds announced by the Scottish Government on or since 15 December 2020 to help the tourism and events industry to survive the impacts of COVID-19, regardless of the body administering the fund.” 

Although the coach industry and its representatives welcomed the Visit Scotland support package, a strict approach to the first round stipulation that more than 55% of a business’s turnover must be accounted for by private hire and tourism-related work to qualify proved controversial. 

One operator says it missed out on a potential award of £72,000 after Visit Scotland judged that it was 1.4% below that threshold. However, an industry figure who is familiar with the second round of the fund has suggested that some winners may be “pleasantly surprised” by what they receive from it.