Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has written to Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to ask for local flexibility for coronavirus business support to help island businesses still missing out on funding.
In her correspondence, Ms Wishart highlights funding being made available to local authorities in England and suggests that a similar model could be introduced in Scotland. Up to £617m is being made available for English local authorities. The funding is aimed at small businesses with fixed property costs but “allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.”
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“I am still regularly contacted by legitimate businesses who aren’t able to access the financial support they desperately need. The Scottish Government worked hard to put together and open support schemes quickly, but businesses in Shetland are still missing out because they don’t fit the eligibility criteria.
“Historical rates anomalies and tenancy arrangements are real issues, and businesses operating from domestic or non-rateable premises are still finding themselves to be ineligible for the main funding streams. Many of these issues could be addressed at a local level if Shetland Islands Council had the flexibility to allocate funds to businesses that clearly need support but are falling through the cracks through no fault of their own.
“The Scottish Government has been proactive in working to close some of the gaps that emerged. I hope that local flexibility will be introduced as a way of further achieving that.”