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Forbes instigates review

Logan tasked with advising on tech support for recovery

Mark Logan: recommendations

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has called upon former Skyscanner executive Mark Logan to look at how the tech sector can help the economy recover from the Covid crisis.

Mr Logan, who was chief operating officer at the Edinburgh-based travel search engine company, has been asked to make a series of recommendations.

The Finance Secretary said: “Scotland’s tech scene is one of the most innovative, high growth sectors we have and it will be critical to our economic recovery.

“As Scotland seeks to emerge from lockdown and restart our economy when the time is right, we will need that innovation more than ever, and that is why I have invited Mark Logan to lead a review that will recommend how we can harness the enormous potential of this sector.”

Ms Forbes announced that the second phase of the Small Business Grant scheme – which extends grant support to all subsequent eligible properties – is now open for applications.

This extension came about after pressure from business groups and opposition politicians to reverse an earlier plan to make the grant available only to each business.

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes: new grants

There is still some dissatisfaction over the revised scheme as it falls short of the 100% guarantee offered on all properties to companies south of the border. This is now subject to a judicial review.

The second phase of the Small Business Grant scheme ensures that – in addition to existing grants of £10,000 or £25,000 for the first property – businesses may now qualify for grants of £7,500 or £18,750 on all subsequent eligible premises.

In addition, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a rateable value up to £18,000 that do not qualify for the Small Business Bonus Scheme, may now qualify for Small Business Grants.

These enhancements, announced in April, are worth an estimated £120 million extra to businesses in Scotland.

The Finance Secretary also commited to pass on the latest £155 million of consequentials to local government in full, following further criticism that this had not been done and was leaving councils short of money.

She called for the Scottish Parliament to be given additional fiscal powers to help address the challenges facing Scotland’s economy.

Ms Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is delivering a strong package of business support worth around £2.3 billion.

“Our actions have been welcomed by the private and third sectors alike, and are making a real difference to people’s lives in Scotland.

“I would like us to do more, but ultimately we are constrained financially and through our limited devolved powers.

“Without the flexibility to borrow we cannot provide further support to individuals and businesses, which is why the UK Government must now permit further fiscal flexibility to allow us to respond more fully.”

Her comments came as Scotland enterprise agencies were preparing a one week suspension of applications for one of the government’s funds – the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – because of the volume of enquiries.

Background:

The Small Business Grant Scheme is being administered by local authorities. Businesses can get information on how to apply via their local council. 

The Scottish Government support includes:

  • £50 million to effectively freeze non-domestic rates at 2019-20 levels – the only country in the UK to do so
  • £824 million to provide 100% rates relief to properties in the Retail, Hospitality, Leisure and aviation sectors
  • £1.3 billion of support made available through two grant schemes, for Small Business and for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
  • a £100 million package of additional grant support for SMEs and newly self-employed people


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