Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that around £220 million of further grants are being made available to help businesses affected by coronavirus, whilst warning of the economic consequences if gaps remain to be addressed.
In recent weeks, Ms Wishart has been contacted by individuals and businesses from wide variety of sectors who will receive limited support from the Scottish Government or none at all due to the Coronavirus Business Support Fund eligibility criteria.
Whilst the details of the new measures are yet to emerge, some businesses who had missed out should be able to receive additional grant funding. The announcement today included an extension to the Small Business Grant scheme to allow small businesses to claim a 75% grant on subsequent properties, in addition to a 100% grant on their first property, and a further fund to target newly self-employed people and small businesses that are ineligible for existing support.
This comes following correspondence from Ms Wishart to the Scottish Finance Secretary which highlighted loopholes and reinforced the need for comprehensive support for Shetland businesses affected by coronavirus. Ms Wishart had described how Shetland businesses are being hit financially by the one property cap, rateable value thresholds, non-domestic rates criteria and the 140 day threshold for self-catering properties. Ms Wishart warned that the gaps that remain could lead to “long-term economic effects” if they are not addressed.
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“I know that Ministers and officials are working hard to respond to the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. I am pleased for Shetland businesses that extra funding has been announced today. It has been increasingly clear that some businesses are really struggling through no fault of their own.
“Yesterday I wrote to the Scottish Government with evidence of isles’ business falling through the cracks. I hope that as the details emerge this new support will go some way to addressing the remaining issues, including for businesses registered from a home address.
“Small businesses and those that are self-employed are an invaluable part of Shetland and our local economy. To reduce serious long-term economic effects on our community long after the virus is brought under control it is vital they get the support they need.”