FSB urges Scottish Government to fill coronavirus business support gap

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland has called for the Scottish Government to establish a new emergency grant and loan scheme for smaller businesses and the self-employed.

FSB urges Scottish Government to fill coronavirus business support gap

Andrew McRae, policy chair, FSB Scotland

In a letter to ministers, FSB Scotland has called for new help for operators who are either excluded from existing support mechanisms or who believe the help they’ve been offered is insufficient.

The FSB has said that home-based and vehicle-based firms are currently excluded from the Scottish coronavirus grant programme; that newly self-employed people do not benefit from the UK Government’s help for this group; and that some small Scottish chains are set to receive much less grant help than their counterparts south of the border.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Policymakers in Edinburgh and London know that many businesses are on borrowed time. And that’s why political decision-makers have rightly focussed on getting support programmes established for the greatest number of individuals and enterprises.

“But as the dust settles, it is clear that there are some in business not getting any help at all. And there are others for whom the help looks insufficient. That’s why we’re arguing for a new grant and loan support fund, which would allocate funding on a case-by-case basis.

“Not every newly self-employed consultant, independent chain, or tradesman operating from their van, will need help. But for those that do, we’re urging the Scottish Government to fill that gap.”

The letter suggests that this new scheme could be funded from any underspend from the current Scottish grants programme. FSB has also called for the Scottish Government to make a request to the Treasury if new finance is required.

In addition, the campaign group has argued that ministers should redirect existing public sectors business loan schemes toward helping firms through the coronavirus crisis.

The FSB has also noted that the Welsh Government recently launched a £500 million Economic Resilience Fund.

Mr McRae continued: “The Scottish Government should look at all of the resources at their disposal to provide additional help for operators that need it. That might mean redirecting cash from other initiatives or working with Treasury to get money to the real economy.

“While many in business are immensely relieved at the help in the pipeline, it isn’t fair that some feel forgotten. Ministers in Edinburgh have an opportunity to provide a new safety net.”

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