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Row deepens over grants

Sturgeon says support for business ‘kept under review’

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: additional support

Nicola Sturgeon today said the Scottish government would look again at the support being offered to businesses, following further questions over the different policies north and south of the border.

Her comments came as the Conservatives and Labour piled pressure on the government to fulfil a pledge to match support being offered to firms in England and Wales.

The First Minister insisted “every penny” of the £2.2bn allocated by Westminster was being spent on business support.

“We do keep these things under review…. we will continue to look at whether there is additional support we can provide to support businesses. We are very mindful of that responsibility,” she said at her daily briefing.

She said there were businesses in Scotland which would not get support in England and outlined some of the measures taken, including help with water charges.

“We have chosen different ways of doing things which reflects the different shape of the Scottish economy.”

The Scottish Tories demanded details on how the government is spending the funds from Westminster.

Donald Cameron

Donald Cameron: ‘no evidence has been provided’

Ms Sturgeon and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes have claimed their package of support is superior to the measures on offer to companies in England and Wales.

But the Tories say no details have been released about where the cash is going.

Across Scotland, firms in retail, leisure and hospitality have hit out at SNP divergence which sees £25,000 emergency grants provided for each business rather than for each property as is the case south of the border.

They have warned this will consign companies with more than one property to collapse, costing thousands of Scottish jobs in the process.

It’s time for the SNP government to put its money where its mouth is

Donald Cameron, Scottish Tories

Shadow finance secretary Donald Cameron has demanded the Scottish Government details exactly how Scottish government ministers can justify their claims.

“We keep hearing from senior SNP figures that its package of support for businesses is superior to the UK Government’s,” said Mr Cameron.

“But absolutely no evidence has been provided to back this up. It’s time for the SNP government to put its money where its mouth is.

“It must detail exactly how it is spending this considerable package of support from the UK Government, and which areas are actually going to benefit from this.

“So far, the only clarity we have is that firms in leisure, hospitality and retail with more than one property are being sold extremely short.”

Thousands of small businesses have signed a petition calling on the Scottish government to fulfil a pledge that it would fully match the package of support on offer to other UK businesses.

Tory leader Jackson Carlaw yesterday said the disparity is “making things worse” for the Scottish economy.

Ian Murray

Ian Murray: letter to First Minister

Shadow Scottish Secretary and Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray has described the Scottish Government’s policy as “extremely unfair”, putting small firms at “greater risk of closure at a time when they are facing huge uncertainty.”

Mr Murray has written to the First Minister saying many businesses with multiple properties like pubs, cafes and restaurants will be at a “huge disadvantage to their counterparts in the rest of the UK.”

He says: “The loss of these businesses and jobs could be catastrophic to local economies and communities.”

Additional funds for Scotland

The Chancellor today announced an additional £600 million to help public services in Scotland respond to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We have been clear that we will do whatever it takes to help all corners of the UK through this crisis and this additional £600 million will go a long way in helping public services in Scotland respond to the huge challenge they are facing.

This comes on top of the substantial coronavirus funding package for Scotland already in place, meaning that Scotland will receive a total cash boost of £3.3 billion to help tackle Coronavirus.

“The coming weeks may be difficult, but we will do everything we can to save lives, protect jobs, support our public services, and back our businesses so they can thrive in the future.”

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