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FSB demands more help as 16k firms await support

Andrew McRae

Andrew McRae: confident of more help

Small businesses have welcomed a rise in the number of government grants being paid to struggling firms but say thousands of businesses are still being denied support.

The Scottish Government has released figures showing that about £63m grants were paid in the last week, compared to £58m in the previous week and £138m in the week previous to that.

But although 65,000 firms have received funding a further 16,000 applications are are still to be resolved with time running out.

Firms receive grants of £10,000 or £25,000 and additional grants for operators with multiple properties – but many firms do not qualify, including those which pay their rates through rental packages or which pay council tax rather than rates.

These businesses have slipped through the net in Scotland while in England a £617m package of support was handed to local authorities for distribution to these firms.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland spoke with Minister for Public Finance Ben Macpherson this week about extending the scheme to these firmp. In addition, they underlined the need to improve the administration of the grant scheme. 

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Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “More money reached Scottish smaller firms this week than last. We’re grateful that this vital help is reaching local firms, though we’d highlight there’s still around 16,000 applications in the pipeline. 

“FSB spoke with the Scottish Government this week about extending help to businesses facing property costs that are currently excluded from help, like firms that operate from co-working spaces, markets and shared offices. We’re confident that policymakers can find a way to help these sorts of smaller firms.

“We also pressed home to the Minister the need to ensure businesses applying for help are treated consistently across the country. A business in Glasgow should be getting help if a similar operator in Glenrothes has been offered a grant.”

Scottish Labour called for the Scottish Government broaden the eligibility for the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Scheme to ensure businesses get the help they need.

Finance spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said: “Unfortunately, today’s statistics suggest that potentially thousands of businesses are missing out on the support they both need and deserve.”

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