Jackie Baillie MSP with Tom Murray, of the The Glencairn in Dumbarton, and Neil Bibby MSP.

By Lucy Ashton

The SNP must deliver urgent financial assistance to the suppliers of Scottish retail and hospitality businesses, Scottish Labour has said, as the Federation of Small Businesses has highlighted that one in five suppliers have received no support from the government.

Scottish Labour deputy leader and finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “The retail and hospitality sectors are absolutely central to Scotland’s economy. But if the suppliers that keep the fridges stocked and the bars full are in danger then the whole sector and the thousands of jobs it sustains are in peril.

“We cannot have these vital Scottish businesses left high and dry by the SNP government. They need support, and they need it now.

“We urgently need the SNP government to engage with COSLA, the FSB and business leaders to ensure that no business falls between the cracks.

“If we are to avoid deep and permanent scarring to the Scottish economy, it is of the utmost importance that the SNP delivers the financial support that businesses so badly need.”

Pubs and restaurants like The Glencairn in Bridge Street, Dumbarton, depend on suppliers to deliver drinks and food all through this pandemic.

Coronavirus grants should be provided for suppliers, whose market has been hit by current restrictions, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

In a letter to the Scottish Government and local authority leaders, FSB also urged Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes and COSLA president Alison Evans to work together to ensure new support reaches the thousands businesses and self-employed people that have had little or no help from government over the course of the 2020 crisis.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairs, said: “The impact of the current Scottish restrictions extends beyond the firms forced to close or reduce their hours by law.

“Thousands of businesses which supply our retail and hospitality sectors are facing similar levels of hardship as those that have been hit directly. But these firms are no more to blame for this crisis than anyone else, and should therefore get some grant help.

“Ministers in Edinburgh need to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves before making further changes to the public health guidance.”

FSB survey work suggests that one in five small business owners or self-employed individuals have had no support from either the Scottish Government or the UK Government during the coronavirus crisis.

Andrew McRae said: “It is grossly unfair that tens of thousands of small businesses and self-employed in Scotland have been left high and dry during this crisis. The new £30 million scheme announced by the First Minister, and to be administered by councils, provides an opportunity to address this glaring oversight.

“While we accept the need for local flexibility and knowledge, there are groups of operators that have been excluded the length and breadth of Scotland. For example, home-based businesses have received little help from Dumbarton to Dumfries. Local and national policymakers need to tackle this problem systematically.”

The small business campaign group urged Ministers to investigate whether the initial £30m funding pot would be sufficient to help all the businesses facing hardship due to the current round of restrictions.

Last week, the Fraser of Allander institute estimated that around £1bn of Scottish Government funding for the 2020/21 financial year remains uncommitted.

Andrew McRae said: “It is frustrating to see wave after wave of restrictions, then weeks later, a trickle of support for Scottish businesses. And less than a million pounds of support per council area won’t stretch very far.

“Ministers need to investigate whether the help on offer is sufficient and then work with councils to ensure that it reaches businesses quickly.”

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