The Scottish Government is set to re-open a scheme which aims to bolster the digital capabilities of businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the news that the Digital Boost Fund is to resume within the next 100 days. He has urged the Government, however, to ensure that businesses which missed out on the scheme previously are prioritised during this next round of funding.
According to Mr McArthur, many business owners were left frustrated due to applications being closed the same day as the scheme opened due to high demand. Many firms were unable to formally submit a request or were too late to be considered, leaving questions over whether the “first come first served” process was appropriate in the circumstances.
The announcement that the £25m scheme, which will be jointly run by Business Gateway and the Scottish Government, is to reopen, came yesterday from finance minister Kate Forbes.
Responding to the news, Mr McArthur said: “The pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink how they operate. It has seen a surge in demand for an online presence or the scaling up of existing online operations.
“Unfortunately, the earlier Digital Boost programme seriously underestimated the scale of need. So, while I welcome the Finance Secretary’s decision to re-open the scheme, she must ensure that businesses that were left in the lurch last time are given priority.
“This will include a number of local businesses in Orkney, left frustrated by the lack of access to support.
“For many of them, being able to operate effectively online is of particular importance given where their customers are based. Again, I would hope that this will be factored into the minister’s thinking.”