Applications open for £100m support package for small businesses
A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people will open for applications later today.
The three separate funds will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies and will begin to pay out grants in early May.
They include a £34m hardship fund for the newly self-employed, a £20m fund for small and micro enterprises in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors and £45m for viable SMEs crucial to the Scottish economy which are vulnerable.
Fiona Hyslop, economy secretary, said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight. Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies are facing.
“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to help the newly self-employed who do not qualify for the UK’s scheme and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus.
“We also recognise the particular impact of COVID-19 on our creative, tourism and hospitality sectors at what would normally be their busiest period. This fund is intended to relieve the hardship of smaller firms that are ineligible for other forms of support.
“As well as dealing with this immediate crisis, we must look to the future. We must ensure that viable and vital businesses in all sectors with a part to play in strengthening the resilience of Scotland’s economy survive this crisis and thrive in future, which is why £45m is being allocated to support those firms.
“We continue to engage with businesses on a regular basis to understand their needs and press the UK Government to deliver for them.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland urged ministers to go further for other excluded groups.
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “This new package is another important piece in the jigsaw of support required to minimise the economic impact of this crisis.
“All sorts of businesses have faced extreme difficulties as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak. And while FSB has expressed thanks for the help announced so far for firms by governments in Edinburgh and London, we’ve been bombarded by calls from business people excluded from support.
“It makes sense to provide extra help for our tourism, hospitality and creative firms who look unlikely to be re-opening in the short term. And we’ve heard from people who started working for themselves in the last few months who are in dire straits.
“We now need ministers to look into specific help for home-based and vehicle-based operators. In addition, senior decision-makers need to ensure that these schemes operate as they should and deserving candidates aren’t denied support.”
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