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Swamped SME fund doubled to cope with demand

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon: more money for business

Nicola Sturgeon today doubled the size of a fund to help SMEs after it was swamped with applications from cash-strapped companies.

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund was launched last week and will now be supported by £90m of public money.

Scottish Enterprise and its partner agencies were forced to suspend the fund on Monday because of the volume of applications.

The agency said closure at 5pm on Tuesday would allow detailed assessment of initial applications. It is due to reopen next week.

Ms Sturgeon unveiled the expansion of funds at today’s update on the coronavirus but made no mention of the suspension of the fund in her opening remarks.

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She said there had been a “significant number of applications:”, adding that increasing the size of the fund “demonstrates our determination to support business.”

Ms Sturgeon confirmed her commitment to the lockdown apart from an easing of the restrictions on leaving home which she will announce over the weekend.

But the Scottish Retail Consortium called on Ms Sturgeon to take note of the Welsh Government’s decision to go further and open garden centres from next week, as well as the Irish government’s publication of a clear plan for a return to work.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our members in pharmacy, pet food, and grocery retailing have shown during the coronavirus crisis that it is possible to operate safely and responsibly in this new environment, regardless of the size of premises.

What is needed now in Scotland is visibility on the route out of lockdown, as has been published in Ireland

– David Lonsdale, SRC

“They’ve invested significantly over a short period in social distancing and other hygiene measures in order to protect staff and customers.

“Drawing on that experience, SRC and trade union USDAW have provided non-essential retailers with detailed guidance, putting them in the best possible position to operate safely once government permits trading again.

“What is needed now in Scotland is visibility on the route out of lockdown, as has been published in Ireland.”

Construction plea

Construction industry leaders have called on Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to take a number of actions to help cash flow when it returns to operations.

Among the demands of the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum are an introduction of a 14-day payment period.

It also wants to see the introduction of Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) from which payments are made directly and simultaneously by the client to all parties in the supply chain.

Building firm fails

Government restrictions on construction sites have been blamed for the collapse of a building firm in western Scotland.

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