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Joint attack on Forbes

Pressure mounts to close business grant loopholes

Donald Cameron

Donald Cameron: ‘nonsensical position’

Tory and Labour MSPs today piled pressure on the Scottish government to resolve what they claim are shortcomings in grant support for small businesses.

Scottish Conservatives have demanded that the Scottish Government closes a loophole to support small businesses which pay rates as part of a rent package but are not the ‘named’ ratepayer.

These businesses, which include market traders and those operating in shared spaces, will benefit from a £617 million fund announced by UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma two weeks ago.

Kate Forbes the Scottish Finance Secretary, has yet to respond, putting those which fall into this sector north of the Border at a disadvantage.

Colliers International, the real estate firm, last week called on the Scottish Government to provide help.

Daily Business revealed gap in funding after Westminster announcement

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary, today raised the issue with Ms Forbes in the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “This is an utterly nonsensical position and is causing many small businesses extreme hardship.

“Many businesses are suffering at the moment because of public health restrictions necessary to keep us all safe – and will need financial support.

“This is just the latest hole in the Scottish Government’s patchy and insufficient support package for the Scottish economy.

“The SNP have already u-turned on support for businesses with multiple premises, they must now close this loophole immediately and give businesses who indirectly pay rates proper support.”

It also emerged today that the volume of cash reaching firms has slowed with £58m being distributed between 5 May and 12 May. By comparison £95m was dispersed in the previous week, and £138m in the first week of release.

Local authorities have received around 79,000 grant applications in total, and had received 74,000 grant applications at the end of April.

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland has requested a meeting with ministers to discuss how to clear any backlog. 

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Scottish Labour said the figures showed half a billion pounds of allocated funding has not been awarded to struggling firms.

Scottish Labour has said the SNP must now reconsider its decision to only allow chain businesses to claim 75% of the maximum support grant, given that ministers justified this on the basis that resources were “limited”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The Scottish Government’s handling of business support has been beset with problems from the start.

Richard Leonard in Airdrie

Richard Leonard: ‘half a billion pounds not allocated’

“SNP ministers blocked retailers with more than one outlet from applying for more than one grant – putting small chain shops in Scotland at a competitive disadvantage.

“The SNP dropped this policy but Scottish businesses are still receiving less support than similar companies south of the Border.

“Ministers said there was not enough money in the pot, but now it has been revealed that almost half a billion pounds has not been allocated, and the allocation of funds is slowing down.

“In light of this, the Scottish Government should urgently reconsider this policy, and offer businesses with more than one premises their additional grants in full.”

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