By Rory Murphy

Businesses in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh have struggled during the pandemic, and they have been grateful for rates relief.

Jackie Baillie, the local MSP, told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon however that while she and others at Holyrood had asked for and welcomed the extension of rates relief for the financial year 2021-22, they were worried about what would happen this year.

She said: “I am told that businesses have until 31 March to apply or the relief may well be lost in the new financial year.

“The window for applications is, in effect, one week. Will the First Minister recognise that that is too short a time frame and allow some flexibility—at least a month—in the application period so that businesses do not lose out?”

Nicola Sturgeon, Katie Forbes and Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton.

The  First Minister replied: “We should all encourage businesses to apply timeously—as most do, for obvious reasons—for the support that is available, so that it can be got to them as quickly as possible.

“We have tried to be as flexible as possible with all those support schemes over the course of the pandemic.”

The FM promised to take the matter up with Katie Forbes – “I will raise the point with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, who, I am sure, will reply in more detail.”

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