Earlier this morning the Scottish Government announced around £220 million of further grants are being made available for businesses – including the recently self-employed – to help them deal with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.
A further £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to COVID. This fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes.
Applications for the £100 million fund will be open by the end of the month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5 May.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:
“The Scottish Government’s primary concern remains protecting people’s health, but it is still the case that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having severe economic consequences for businesses around the country.
We are doing everything we can to support business at this difficult time and we continue to listen to and engage with the sector.
Our support for business now exceeds the £2.2 billion passed on from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes. Around 100,000 businesses in total are already eligible for our small business grants and from today we will be extending that scheme in response to feedback from businesses on the front line of this economic crisis.
The creation of a £100 million fund is to help those micro and SME businesses who face immediate cash flow challenges, are ineligible for other schemes and are the productive base for supporting employment in the future. It will also support those newly self-employed people who are also ineligible for UK schemes and will be a vital lifeline for many businesses and individuals across Scotland.
With UK Government support not being available until June, we are going further to secure the future economic viability of Scottish firms and applications will be open by the end of the month.
While many businesses are in difficulty, some are doing better than others or can pull through from their own resources.
Just as we ask the public only to buy what they need in the supermarkets, we are asking businesses who do not need this vital help to refrain from claiming additional support unless absolutely necessary so we can direct as much help as possible to those who need it most.“
Further clarification is being sought on the definition of “viable micro and SME businesses in distress” and “newly self-employed people”. Further clarification is also needed on what evidence will be required to fulfil the criteria to access this additional support for businesses in distress.
This additional funding still does not address the lack of support for properties with a rateable value greater than £51k of which there are an estimated 650 pubs and 950 hotels in Scotland, many of whom are also in need of support.