Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson has welcomed new funds promised by the SNP to support businesses through COVID but fears it might be “too little, too late.”
SNP minister Kate Forbes outlined more business support in Parliament on the 9th of December – however businesses won’t be able to apply for the new funds until January and full details of the schemes are still not available.
In Parliament, the Scottish Conservatives brought forward a motion calling for reviewing business grants to ensure the support they need is accessible over winter.
Graham Simpson, MSP for Central Scotland said: “The SNP have finally got around to using the extra funding from the UK Government but for many businesses, it could be too little, too late.
"The public health response has been largely understandable, but the consequences have been extremely damaging and life changing for so many people.
"Livelihoods have been lost and the hopes and dreams of young people leaving school or university have been put on hold and have perhaps been dashed forever.
"The Covid-19 Strategic Framework Business Fund is a good idea. This is for businesses required to close by law or to significantly change its operations due to COVID-19 restrictions from 2 November 2020.
"But go into the application pages on North Lanarkshire Council’s website and answer no to the question, was your business trading on November 2 and it says you are not eligible. That’s clearly a mistake but this sort of confusion shouldn’t be happening.
“Businesses have their backs up against the wall and need access to the additional grants right now - they can’t wait until January with countless jobs and livelihoods on the line.
"Pubs, restaurants, taxis and dozens of other types of business would normally be enjoying one of their best times of year just now. Instead, they are facing devastating restrictions and fighting to stay afloat.
“That’s why the Scottish Conservative have outlined a plan of action to help businesses across Scotland, including carrying a rapid review of business grant limits.”
Maurice Golden: Economy— That the Parliament notes that too many businesses affected by the pandemic restrictions have been unable to access support grants; calls for the Scottish Government to undertake a rapid review into grant eligibility with a view to ensuring that businesses can access the support that they need over the winter; further calls on the Scottish Government to provide certainty for businesses next year by committing to extending the non-domestic rates poundage freeze and the rates relief for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses into 2021-22, and calls on it to establish a coronavirus business advisory council.
The full list of new action that Douglas Ross called on the SNP Government to take includes:
- Carrying out a rapid review of business grant limits.
- Allowing businesses in restrictions to voluntarily close and access the full closure grant.
- Removing parking charges in town centres.
- Extending the business rates exemptions and poundage freeze into next year.
- Working with the UK Government on business rates reform.
- Introducing a break on new non-Covid related business regulation.