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Call for extra help

‘New grants needed’ if firms forced to close again

Andrew McRae

Andrew McRae: ‘need for mitigation’

Small firms leaders are calling on government ministers to consider financial support for workplaces that are required to re-close because staff have been in contact with the virus.

The appeal comes as the Scottish Government revealed details of its route map allowing some businesses to restart – while concern remains that the virus may return.

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland policy chairman, said: “Many in business hope that the track and trace system is the key to unlocking our economy.

“Independent operators stand ready to play their part in making the initiative work.  

“However, now is the time to consider whether we need a new financial support scheme for firms asked to close because of virus re-transmission risk. 2020 has been a torrid year for many in business.

It would be a devastating blow for a firm if they were asked to close once or multiple times

– Andrew McRae, FSB

“Once the economy re-opens, it would be a devastating blow for a firm if they were asked to close once or multiple times.

“At this stage Ministers in Edinburgh should consider means to mitigate the impact of this scenario on individual firms, because the wider Track and Protect system is so important to getting the wider business community back on its feet.”

The Scottish Government released figures showing that around 69,000 coronavirus grants, worth £790 million, have been distributed to Scottish businesses.

Around £48 million grants were paid in the last week, compared to £63m in the week previous and £58m in the week previous to that. Around 16,000 applications for grant support have yet to be processed. 

The statistics follow an announcement that the grant scheme would be extended to businesses that share premises and for firms outside the non-domestic rates system.

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Mr McRae said: “These grants really are a lifeline for many in business. While it is good to see money reaching firms – there’s still a backlog of applications that need to be processed.

“The Scottish Government and local government should set a deadline to process the outstanding requests for support.

“We were impressed with this week’s announcement from Ministers that they’re going to extend financial assistance to many independent enterprises currently excluded from help, following representations from FSB.

“This help can’t come soon enough for many local firms like market traders and new-start businesses in co-working spaces.”

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