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Cash support questioned

Forbes unveils grant top-up amid fresh claims of delays

Kate Forbes: ‘grants are generous’

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced a top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses just hours after documents showed fresh evidence of long delays delivering cash to those in need.

There were also renewed warnings that even this new money would not prevent businesses going to the wall.

Ms Forbes said that in some cases the latest grants would mean doubling or tripling the amount of support the Scottish government is providing.

In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of:

  • £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000
  • £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next tranche of payment for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on 25 January.

The government said businesses that have not yet applied for either of these funds should submit an application as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

Douglas Ross at Norbord

Douglas Ross: ‘inexcusable delays’

Ms Forbes said: “This additional support for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will be available this month, in some cases doubling or tripling the amount of support we are providing. Applications are open now and payment will be made this month.

“Crucially this essential funding will also help to close the gaps in UK wide support for these impacted sectors and our one-off support for larger hospitality premises of £25,000 is considerably more generous than the £9,000 grant on offer in England.”

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Willie Macleod said: “Additional financial assistance is always welcome, but the reality is that this is not going to be enough. We are talking about businesses that now have no revenue, or next to no revenue, whatsoever. 

“The sector’s ability to generate any sort of income is almost non-existent, particularly for businesses in mainland Scotland. Financial support must go further if we want businesses to stay afloat and jobs to survive.”

The announcement came after further evidence emerged of delays in the delivery of business support packages by the Scottish government.

A Cosla document shows only seven of 30 funds that have been announced have actually been launched.

Some will not begin paying out until February or March, months after restrictions came into force.

The latest statistics show as little as £6 million of new funding announced since late October has reached businesses.

The Scottish Conservatives said none of the £185 million announced on 9 December appeared to have been delivered and it was unclear how much of the £30m discretionary fund announced on 21 October has been paid out.

Just £6m of the £30m Strategic Business fund has been delivered, according to the latest Scottish Government statistics.

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Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “It is good to see the Scottish Government increase the size of the grants that are available. This should help some smaller Scottish businesses weather the current storm for a bit longer. 

“The Scottish Government still has work to do to get previously announced support schemes up and running. And we must see help reach those that have had little or nothing so far, like many home-based businesses. Ministers must strive to make vital help easier to access and understand.”

The SNP government is also considering shutting down click and collect operations which has alarmed Scottish retailers.

Commenting on the Cosla document, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “These inexcusable delays are fuelling growing fury from businesses that so many SNP funds are failing to deliver any cash at all.  

“The Scottish Conservatives have put forward proposals to break the “administrative logjam” and get funding to businesses now.

“A 10-day turnaround guarantee and expanding the grants available would be a welcome first-step towards restoring business confidence, which has hit rock bottom, according to figures released today by the Federation of Small Businesses.

“Jobs will be lost and businesses forced to close because the SNP couldn’t get cash out the door quickly enough.”

On click and collect, Douglas Ross said: “Restrictions need to be based in evidence and, as retail bodies have said today, nobody has seen any data to support this move.

“Shutting down click and collect services could drive more people to shop in supermarkets, so this decision needs careful consideration. It can’t be based on a hunch.  

“If evidence does show that limiting those services will save lives, extra funding from the SNP will be necessary to keep businesses afloat.”

On the prospect of click and collect services being withdrawn, David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “In the absence of an indicative date for the re-opening of shops the ability to operate click and collect is a financial lifeline for struggling retailers, and so it is disappointing to hear through the media it being cited as an example of further commercial activity that could be forcibly shut.”



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