New £185 million package for businesses

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes

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BUSINESSES across Scotland will benefit from a new £185 million package of targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) support.

The announcement follows discussions with business groups and sees a wide range of sectors benefiting, from taxi drivers and arts venues to travel agents and hospitality.

In addition, there will be additional one-off payments to hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand. These will be of £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.

The package was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who also said she had written to the Treasury calling for Scotland to receive its share of rates relief reimbursed by supermarkets “to ensure this is spent on those areas hardest hit as part of Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19”.

Ms Forbes said: “I am pleased to confirm an allocation of £185 million for new and additional business support in the new year. We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.

“We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8 million for brewers.

“We will give £1.5 million to travelling show people ineligible for other support, while a new £19 million fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.

“I can also announce that further support of £60 million will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.

“I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our COVID-19 support offer within the available resources.”

Specific support includes:

  • £15 million for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers
  • one-off grants totalling £15 million for mobile close contact services, such as hairdressers
  • a £19 million fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers
  • £5 million for travel agents
  • almost £6 million for coach companies and tour operators
  • £1.5 million for visitor attractions

The move has been welcomed by business leaders across the sectors.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “These new funds should close some of the most yawning gaps in coronavirus business support, and help many Scottish smaller firms who were forgotten during previous initiatives.

“While we’d like to have seen a speedier and more systematic approach to supporting local businesses crushed by the crisis, we’re pleased that Ministers have seen the light following our representations.”

Joanne Dooey, Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) president, said: “This is hugely welcome news for travel agents who have been forced to remain open as businesses since March to help their clients with cancellations and refunds, but who have had nothing to sell and no one to sell to.

“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government on a delivery mechanism for this cash support to agents across Scotland.”

 

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