18,000 businesses benefit from coronavirus support grants
More than £215 million has been awarded to over 18,000 Scottish business ratepayers in just two weeks to help firms combat the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, new figures have revealed.
Latest Scottish Government figures show that 59,385 applications were made to 32 local authorities for the business grants by April 14 this year. There have been 18,528 grants awarded so far worth £215,445,000.
The funding has been allocated between two funds:
- The Small Business Support Grant scheme allows small businesses to apply for grants up to £10,000.
- The Retail, Hospitality and Licensed Premises Support Grant allows firms to apply for up to £25,000.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “We are doing everything we can to support business at this very difficult time and will continue to listen to and engage with the sector. Our total support for Scottish business now exceeds the £2.2 billion passed on from the UK Government.
“The fact we have managed to pay out this large amount to so many businesses across Scotland is a substantial achievement and demonstrates the capability of our partners in local government. I am grateful for their continued efforts in helping to deliver these vital grants.
“In addition to our generous backing for businesses we are also committed to helping sectors of the economy that are not being supported in other parts of the UK such as aviation, seafood fishing, fish processing and farming and charities.
“This scheme complements other support available and many businesses applying will also be eligible for the furlough scheme and rates relief. I would encourage only businesses who need support to apply, enabling us to direct as much help as possible to those who need it most.
“We promised to pass every penny received from the UK Government on to businesses in Scotland and we are. Our priority remains to protect lives but we are doing all we can to protect livelihoods too.”
Business Gateway has been working closely with local authorities to support the delivery of grants throughout Scotland.
Councillor Steven Heddle, COSLA’s spokesperson for environment and economy, said: “I want to thank council staff and colleagues from Business Gateway for their incredible efforts to implement the grant schemes so quickly.
“Small to medium-sized enterprises have been severely impacted so delivery of support grants as quickly and effectively as possible is a top priority.
“This support will be fundamental in helping businesses put plans in place to recover and grow beyond this crisis, protecting jobs and supporting economic recovery in communities across the country.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland welcomed the progress, but urged councils and government to deliver the grants more quickly.
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “This grant funding could be the difference between success and failure for many smaller firms during the coronavirus crisis. And for that reason, we’re grateful for the funds that have been delivered to businesses already. But we’d urge everyone involved in the delivery of this crucial support to do everything possible to process the applications and deliver the cash more quickly.”
The First Minister has also announced her intention to convene an Economic Recovery Advisory Group to plan how to rebuild the economy once restrictions are eased.
Mr McRae added: “The First Minister is right to lay the groundwork for recovery. And given that smaller firms and the self-employed form the bedrock of our local economies, this new group will need to consider their role and interests at every juncture.”
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