The Scottish Government has announced that firms across the country will benefit from a new £185million package of targeted coronavirus support in the new year. The move will lead to a wide range of sectors benefiting.
In addition, there will be additional one-off payments to hospitality firms 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 said: "We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.
"I can also announce that further support of £60million 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 detailed in the latest announcement includes:
- £15million for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers.
- One-off grants totalling £15million for mobile close-contact services, such as hairdressers.
- A £19million fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers.
- £5million for travel agents.
- Almost £6million for coach companies and tour operators.
- £1.5million for visitor attractions.
The Federation of Small Businesses broadly welcomed the announcement. Andrew McRae, the group’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.
"However we're now left with a myriad of schemes at various stages of delivery, with much of the cash unlikely to reach firms until the new year.
“In the future, we need to see policymakers in Edinburgh deliver help for local businesses at the same pace as they implement restrictions on the economy."
The FSB has also reiterated its call for the Scottish Government to investigate the possibility of a high street voucher scheme to boost local economies.
Mr McRae added: "Despite the Christmas lights, many small businesses on local high streets aren't feeling very festive. There's no point denying that this December is going to be difficult for many.
“That's why the Scottish Government should set the wheels in motion to deliver a high street voucher for every household to inject real spending power into our local economies when it is safe to do so."
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the further £185million in support was welcome, but it will be cold comfort to many firms who have so little cash left they have only weeks to survive.
She added: "We are not convinced that the urgency of the need to pay our rent and other costs are fully understood.
"For many, January will be too late to save business owners, their families and their employees from economic ruin. This should be the top priority for all organisations who are going to be involved in supporting businesses.''
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