Language schools appeal for Covid help from Scottish government
9 March 2022

Language schools appeal for Covid help from Scottish government 

The Scottish government is being urged to provide financial support already being given in England and Wales. 

English UK Scotland has written to the government's Directorate for Covid Business Resilience and Support (SECBS) asking for its members to receive a share of a new fund provided by Westminster for businesses that have received no other Covid relief.  

In the letter, English UK Scotland asked for support to be provided as rates relief and as grants similar to the English Additional Restrictions Grant, aimed at businesses that have been unable to trade as a result of Covid regulations.  

Suzanne Littlejohn, chair of English UK Scotland and principal of Brownlee Language International Summer Schools (BLISS), said: "People come from all over the world to experience our culture and learn English in Scotland and this trade brings us so many benefits both economic and cultural.  

"Before the pandemic, in a normal year, Scottish language schools brought in more than £115m in revenue, supported over 2,800 full-time equivalent jobs and paid around £20m in taxation. Language schools give Scotland cultural links with the rest of the world and support our tourism and international education sector, in particular our universities. People who come to Scotland to learn English, perhaps as teenagers, are more likely to visit again and again and bring friends and family. And many Scottish households earn a little extra money by taking in students during their courses.  

"As a nation, we risk losing all of this unless the Scottish government is now willing to help us." 

English UK Scotland members have been campaigning for funding since the pandemic began, with support from English UK's public affairs team. They achieve a meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, but have still been given no support.  

A letter from SECBS last October said it "had not been able to help every business or sector to the extent they have needed" and had had to make "difficult decisions" and "tough choices". It concluded: "Without the ability to borrow, the Scottish Government is not in a position to provide additional funding for business support. We have urged the UK Government to make further funding available to ensure that we can put businesses on the right footing to support our economic recovery." 

The English UK Scotland letter notes that the Scottish government has recently received additional funding of £145m, part of a £1.5bn tranche from Westminster which in England has been sent to councils to support businesses previously unable to access rates relief. Business rates and rents make up over 70% of non-controllable costs for year-round language schools. They have had to continue paying rates despite making a fraction of their usual income.  

The letter goes on to say: "The industry in Scotland has a bright future ahead of it once demand returns, but expertise built up over many decades is at risk of being destroyed without further support now.  

"We therefore urge you to look again at what you can offer us and pledge to help us with any new funding that comes available." 

>> Contact English UK's public affairs team if you would like to support the campaign

>> Visit the English UK campaigning and lobbying page

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