Business support grants go live but self-catering businesses are excluded
As funding pots designed to help businesses deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak opens to applications, a call has been made to re-evaluate the fund and enable self-catering businesses access to financial assistance.
Businesses can now apply for one-off grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 from the Scottish Government’s Business Support Fund.
However, self-catering businesses have been horrified to discover that they are not eligible for support.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur says he has been contacted by many “extremely worried” constituents over the last 24 hours as fears over income and as to what the future holds are heightened during this time of crisis.
He has written to finance secretary, Kate Forbes, highlighting the unfairness of the exclusion and he urged the Scottish Government to reconsider the eligibility criteria.
He has also highlighted specific difficulties caused by the rateable value thresholds, which are likely to create difficulties for certain local businesses.
Mr McArthur said: “The announcement of a package of measures to provide financial support for small businesses across Scotland is of course very welcome during this exceptionally challenging time.
“However, the wholesale exclusion of self-catering businesses has caused widespread concern and appears unjustified.
“Bookings have been cancelled during what would usually be the busiest time of the year. At the same time, like any other business, they have overheads to cover, bills to pay and income that they depend upon.
“Understandably, they are questioning why they should be treated so differently from other businesses in the sector and indeed self-catering businesses in other parts of the UK, who are able to access this support.
“I have written to the finance secretary highlighting these concerns and urging her to reverse the decision to exclude all self-catering businesses. This is a call I know that many of my MSP colleagues, across all parties, support.
“The government is to be commended on introducing this support fund. It will, I am sure, make a real difference to keeping businesses afloat and staff employed during this incredibly difficult period.
“It is vital, however, that we get the detail right and the support to where it is needed.”
Local authorities will be delivering the grants. In Orkney, local businesses can apply here.
More information about the Government scheme is available here.