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Joint letter

Three chambers urge ministers to plug funding gap

Liz McAreavey

Liz McAreavey: call to plug funding gap (pic: Terry Murden)

Three of Scotland’s biggest chambers of commerce have called for further support for micro-businesses and large scale operators in the leisure sector.

The chambers in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow have urged Scottish government ministers to follow Westminster’s decision to plug a funding gap for those using shared co-working spaces.

Businesses which work in these spaces usually have agreements which effectively combine rents and rates paid directly to the landlord. 

Because they do not directly engage with the rates system, these businesses do not meet the criteria for the existing £10,000 grants.

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The UK Government last weekend made available £617 million in additional funding for local authorities in England to help these businesses.

The issue was reported by Daily Business on Saturday and yesterday the property agent Colliers International added its voice to demands that ministers follow Westminster’s lead.

In a letter to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop, the chambers say ministers should reassure members that the Scottish Government will use any consequentials from this funding in a similar way, “allowing local authorities the discretion to provide further grant funding to firms who are falling through the cracks”.

The chambers, represented by Russell Borthwick in Aberdeen, Liz McAreavey in Edinburgh and Stuart Patrick in Glasgow, add that many big city centre firms in hospitality, retail and tourism are unable to access support through the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Support Grant because their rateable value is above the £51,000 threshold.. 

“With expectations that the impact on this sector could be more sustained than in other parts of the economy, we continue to encourage the creation of an expanded grant scheme offering support proportionate to rateable values,” say the chambers.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland is also urging ministers to expand the grants scheme to cover indirect ratepayers, such as firms that operate from shared offices or indoor markets. The Northern Ireland Executive has already amended its schemes.

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