The trade organisation for independent retailers has lambasted Scotland first minister Humza Yousaf’s remarks on the BBC yesterday, after he said there is “no case” for compensation over delays and changes to the deposit return scheme.

Last week, Circular Economy minister Lorna Slater said the scheme will be delayed until at least October 2025, as a consequence of the UK government’s decision not to grant the scheme a full exclusion from the Internal Market Act. The statement came after the UK government said DRS could go ahead in Scotland but without the inclusion of glass, as it looked to align the scheme with others planned in the UK.

According to a report in The Scotsman, Yousaf told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg yesterday: “We don’t believe there’s a case for the Scottish government to need to compensate because the action we’ve had to take is because of that 11th hour, last-minute intervention from the UK government, which has meant that a Scottish scheme, unfortunately, isn’t viable.”

Today, the Federation of Independent Retailers questioned Yousaf’s statement.

The Fed’s national deputy vice president Mo Razzaq said: “How can the Scottish government claim that there is no case to answer?  It told us repeatedly to get ready for this scheme. Shopkeepers who took out leasing contracts are paying almost £4,000 a year for now redundant machines to process returned bottles and cans.”

He said some retailers have also paid thousands for structures to house the machines outside or shop fitting to accommodate them inside.

“This is money they can ill afford,” he added. “The number of store closures in towns and villages across Scotland confirms small shops have a fragile economic existence. 

“The Scottish government’s claim to seek an improved relationship with business, will have faint credibility if it seeks to evade paying compensation.”

Meanwhile the British Soft Drinks Association has said it is looking to talk to the government regarding compensation.

“On behalf of all members, the BSDA is seeking urgent discussion with the Scottish government on compensation for costs caused by this delay,” the BSDA said.