The seafood response fund gave funding to shellfish, aquaculture and catching businesses across the UK when they had been affected by covid or by trade disruption. The size of each payment was based on the average fixed costs for each business. For catching businesses, this was based on vessel size, and for aquaculture businesses, this was based on the number of people they employed.
Now that the Minister has had time to read the deal that the UK Government have signed, she will see that it is a bad deal and that there has been a lot of trade disruption. In January and February, Scottish companies were losing roughly £1 million per day. By the end of February, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation stated that its members had lost £11 million. What does the Minister estimate is the total cost of covid and Brexit on the Scottish seafood industry? How much compensation has been paid to Scottish companies? How much compensation is still to be paid, and what has she done to resolve the issue of exports to the EU?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the extensive work that has been carried out by the Scottish seafood taskforce, chaired by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid), which has provided practical and sensible measures to assist with exports to the EU. On the specific fund, we were very careful to make it clear that Scottish businesses should not lose out, so the fund was available for all eligible UK businesses, and Scottish businesses were able to apply for a top-up if that was appropriate, so we were very careful to ensure that Scottish businesses were treated equitably.