Tory leader Jackson Carlaw asked Nicola Sturgeon about business grants.
By Bill Heaney
The vexed question of how much businesses will receive in “shielding” grants from the Scottish Government was raised at First Minister’s Questions today (Thursday).
Many business persons were under the impression that the mentioned grant of £25,000 would be made available per property or shop which they operated.
However, it has emerged that even if a business has a chain of shops it will only receive a single grant of £25,000.
Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: “When grants were announced to help businesses get through these tough times, Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, told the Scottish Parliament on 18 March that grants would be issued per property.
“Businesses were assured that every penny of support funding would be passed on, and they planned on that basis. It then emerged that, in Scotland alone, grants would be given on the basis of one per business, not one per business outlet.
“That puts any firm in Scotland with more than one outlet at a huge disadvantage compared to those in England and Wales.”
He added: “Businesses on our high streets are dealing with the reality, not the theory, of the crisis. They are saying to us that they need the support if they are going to be there at the end of the crisis.”
Nicola Sturgeon replied: “Every single penny of the consequential funding that is coming from the United Kingdom Government is being passed on to businesses.
“We have designed the support in a way that allows more businesses to benefit. By limiting the grants to one per business, we have enabled more businesses to benefit.
“There are properties with rateable values of between £15,000 and £18,000, for example, that get a grant in Scotland but would not get that grant if they were in England.
“We are also providing a range of support in Scotland that is not available elsewhere. We are providing help for businesses that have difficulties with water charges. We have provided a financial support package for the bus industry. We have provided £5 million for the seafood sector and another £10 million for seafood business resilience.”
She added: “We have provided funding through Creative Scotland for artists and those in the creative sector. We are providing money for a range of sectors, which is support that is not available elsewhere.
“Every penny is being passed on, but we are trying to do that in as fair a way as possible that captures and provides assistance to as many businesses as possible.
“However, I am acutely aware—this will be true in the United Kingdom and in Scotland—that businesses will require further support in the period to come, so we are continuing to talk to business organisations, individual sectors and businesses about what more we can do to support them.”
West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl has refused to comment.