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Appeal to First Minister

Firms need help in new Covid clampdown says FSB

shop closed notice

One in 20 Scottish businesses remains closed (pic: Terry Murden)

A small business group has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urging the Scottish Government to outline the support it will provide to firms if new coronavirus restrictions are announced. 

Official figures show that one in 20 businesses in Scotland remain shut and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is warning that new restrictions – however temporary – could increase the number of permanent closures. 

Its appeal for clarification follows the First Minister’s statement at today’s daily briefing when she confirmed there would be no national lockdown, “not even on a temporary basis”, but said new, unspecified, measures would be announced in parliament tomorrow..

She said there is no plan to make people stay at home nor impose travel restrictions across the country.

“We are not about to shut down the economy,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon said there would be no repeat of the March lockdown

Her comments follow concerns expressed by business owners and trade bodies that the economy would be severely damaged by any new lockdown.

The FSB later pointed out that the UK Government detailed its standard grant package in the event of further lockdowns in early September.

Andrew McRae, the FSB Scotland policy chairman, said: “Ministers need to understand that new coronavirus restrictions will take a huge toll on Scotland’s small business community. Many Scottish independent firms’ reserves and credit-lines are close to exhaustion.

“The bare minimum that those in business expect is for the Scottish Government to set out their new package of help at the same time as they detail any new restrictions.”

The FSB has urged the Scottish Government to rebuild trust with the business community to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

Andrew McRae said: “Up and down Scotland, many in business are incredibly stretched. Responsible local firms are knuckling down trying to balance the books while complying with the various coronavirus restrictions. 

“However, days of unhelpful speculation regarding a new wholesale lockdown has harmed fragile business confidence and put new emotional strain on those that work for themselves.

“Ministers need the support of firms to tackle this crisis – action is required to rebuild trust between government and business.”

Hospitality groups fear worst

Scotland’s bar and restaurant operators have warned that the increased restrictions will put investment plans and jobs at risk without more support.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) comprises nine of the country’s largest independent hospitality operators which employ over 6,000 people, including more than 1500 under-25s.

SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery, who runs two hotels in Dumfries, said that closing many of the country’s best-known venues would be “counterproductive and not backed by science.”

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