1 in 5 left out
Grants demand for suppliers and forgotten firms
Grants should be awarded to suppliers, says the FSB
Suppliers to the hospitality and retail trade hit by current restrictions should also qualify for coronavirus grants, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
In a letter to the Scottish Government and local authority leaders, FSB also urged Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to work with COSLA president Alison Evison to ensure support reaches thousands businesses and self-employed people that have had little or no help from government over the course of the 2020 crisis.
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “The impact of the current Scottish restrictions extends beyond the firms forced to close or reduce their hours by law.
“Thousands of businesses which supply our retail and hospitality sectors are facing similar levels of hardship as those that have been hit directly. But these firms are no more to blame for this crisis than anyone else, and should therefore get some grant help.
“Ministers in Edinburgh need to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves before making further changes to the public health guidance.”
Andrew McRae: ‘glaring oversight’
FSB says one in five small business owners or self-employed individuals have had no support from either the Scottish Government or the UK Government.
Mr McRae said: “The new £30 million scheme announced by the First Minister, and to be administered by councils, provides an opportunity to address this glaring oversight.”
Last week, the Fraser of Allander institute estimated that around £1 billion of Scottish Government funding for the 2020/21 financial year remains uncommitted.
The latest demands coincide with surveys showing an increase in confidence in a return to growth on the back of new vaccines.
The Lloyds Banking Group / Bank of Scotland Business Barometer tracked a dramatic increase in business confidence after the 9 November announcement that the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine has 90% efficacy against COVID-19.
UK firms surveyed after the announcement between 9 and 16 November had an overall confidence of -15%, which was seven points higher than those polled between 2 and 8 November .
The latest BDO Rethinking the Economy survey found that medium-sized businesses in Scotland predict a strong recovery once a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out.
The survey showed that 56% of Scottish businesses predict they will fully recover in less than six months once a vaccine for COVID-19 is made available. 85% said they would recover in a year of a vaccine roll-out.
Martin Bell, partner and head of tax for BDO in Scotland, said: “News of positive vaccine trials has clearly buoyed Scottish businesses, in terms of their ability to recover quickly from the impact of COVID-19.
“However, there is still a degree of caution amongst Scottish businesses regarding the pace of economic recovery in the UK.