Scottish Government announces £2.2bn fund for business affected by coronavirus



Fiona Hyslop

Yesterday, economy secretary Fiona Hyslop announced a series of measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus on businesses in Scotland, including a £2.2 billion for businesses.

In her statement, Ms Hyslop warned that as a result of coronavirus, the Scottish economy is facing an immediate collapse in demand.

She outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2bn from 1 April:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

Ms Hyslop said: “The overall economic impact is clearly likely to be significant, though the scale and duration of the impact are difficult to predict. Depressed economic activity this year will have implications for the public finances through lower tax receipts and higher welfare spending.

“This will have severe economic consequences and we are treating it as an economic emergency, triggered by the enormity of the health emergency. I welcome the further support announced by the Chancellor and the Scottish Government will pass all consequentials to businesses to help them through this challenging period.

“We have already confirmed our intention to effectively the freeze the poundage rate next year and today I can confirm that we will mirror those measures with a package of reliefs and grants worth £2.2bn.

“That will ensure that small businesses receiving the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant. We will provide 12 months relief for properties in hospitality, leisure and retail and provide a £25,000 grant for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.

“We need to see substantial grant support and tax breaks to keep companies in business and people in jobs where possible, and a greater emphasis on supporting individuals and households.

“I will continue to work closely with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations as this situation will require a coordinated UK response.”

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s package of increased support for businesses facing difficulties because of the coronavirus outbreak. The value of the package is around £2.2bn and includes grants to smaller firms.

“The Scottish Government has achieved its pledge of ensuring Scottish businesses are able to attain the same benefits as their counterparts south of the border after the Chancellor announced his £350bn support packages yesterday. Now we need both governments to ensure that this support gets to the businesses that will need it to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

“What we need now is to ensure Scottish businesses are able to access and receive the grants in their accounts as quickly as possible. We cannot wait days. For many businesses, the urgency of a decision being actioned can be the difference between staying in business, keeping our employees, and ensuring we are able to survive this horrendous situation.’’

Andrew McRae, policy chair, Federation of Small Businesses (Scotland), added: “Scotland’s independent businesses will be pleased to hear that there’s a significant £1.9bn package of help on the way. The crucial thing now, though, is to get this support to the front line as quickly as possible. We can’t see perfectly good businesses going to the wall – taking jobs and future tax revenues with them – because of temporary, if acute, cash-flow problems.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.


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