Economic Impacts from Ferry Chaos Requires Immediate Government Intervention

Feedback from key businesses and economic sectors across the Outer Hebrides clearly demonstrates the detrimental impact that the failure of the ferry service is having on individual businesses.

Cllrs Donald Crichton and Norrie MacDonald Chair and Vice-Chair of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said:

“The hugely detrimental impact on businesses of the on-going failure of the ferry service is clear.  Impacts on hauliers means that goods are taking longer to arrive and have shorter shelf lives.  Exporters, particularly those exporting time-critical goods, are unable to meet market times resulting in cancellation of orders.  Many hauliers are having to absorb the additional costs arising from these issues.  Businesses across virtually every sector are suffering from lack of raw materials, packaging, and gas deliveries, which is resulting in developers putting projects on hold.  The impacts on the local tourism market are huge with a collapse in visitor confidence.  Many hospitality and accommodation business are reporting significant cancellations.  Accommodation businesses contacted by Business Gateway in Uist report bookings down by about 40% compared to last year.  These business attribute this directly to the ferries situation.
“These examples are the tip of the iceberg.  The economic impact of the ferries situation is undeniable, with businesses reporting that the poor reliability of the service is having a greater impact on them than COVID.  The Scottish Government must, therefore, take immediate and decisive action to aid affected businesses.  The Government simply reiterating previous investment in the network and talking about vessels that may emerge in the future is not an appropriate response to the present economic crisis.  The Government must act and put in place a compensation or similar aid package to help businesses get through this next period.  We call on the Scottish Government to engage immediately with the Comhairle, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and representatives of key business sectors to discuss how a business aid package can be introduced for businesses impacted by the ferry crisis.”