Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has addressed the Scottish Parliament on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland.
In her statement she 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 £2.2 billion 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 £2.2 billion.
“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.”
The £2.2 billion package of support for business supersedes the £320 million package announced on 14 March and includes an additional £1.9 billion of increased support following the Chancellor’s announcement on 17 March.