Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has written to Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to ask that eligibility criteria for the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Fund be reassessed so that businesses operating from home can access support.
Current guidance states that eligible businesses must be located in a non-domestic property to apply for grants, excluding those who operate from home or have their business registered there.
Ms Wishart has written to the Finance Secretary to ask that the eligibility criteria be reconsidered.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“This is clearly a very worrying time for small business owners. With it already being a challenge to access business advice due the high demand, it will be all the more frustrating to eventually be told that you are not eligible for support simply because of your business address.
“I recognise the difficult job that Ministers and officials have during this crisis to get support schemes up and running quickly, but the eligibility criteria must be reconsidered to ensure that businesses in Shetland can get the help they urgently need.”
The letter reads:
I have received representations from a number of constituents regarding the criteria of the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Fund.
The ratepayers of businesses located in a non-domestic property that is on 17 March;
- in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS);
- in receipt of Rural Relief; or
- eligible for SBBS but in receipt of Nursery Relief, Disabled Relief, Fresh Start or Business Growth Accelerator Relief;
can apply to access a support fund and receive a one-off small business support grant of £10,000. This is only available if they were the ratepayer for a premises occupied for that business use on 17 March 2020.
A separate one-off grant of £25,000 is available to the ratepayers of businesses in the Retail, Hospitality, Leisure sectors operating in a premises with a rateable value of £18,001 or up to £51,000
Many of my constituents are operating from or have their business registered at a domestic premise, and therefore do not qualify for the above support. Furthermore, individuals operating tourist boat trips do not have a rateable value at all. They are all, though, legitimate businesses, and are extremely concerned that their ineligibility to get a support grant will mean the difference between surviving these unprecedented times, or not. You will understand that this is causing considerable frustration and anxiety, and indeed the word “terrified” has been used to describe the situation some find themselves in.
I appreciate that Ministers and officials are responding rapidly to a very difficult situation but I would be grateful if the eligibility criteria could be re-assessed to take account of this situation to ensure that my constituents and their businesses can be supported through this crisis. The consequences of not receiving this support will affect the long-term viability of many businesses in Shetland.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Beatrice Wishart MSP