FSB: 12 days to save smaller firms’ Christmas

People in Scotland now have 12 days to save local businesses’ Christmas, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). With news that covid restrictions will be eased across significant parts of the country from this weekend, the small business campaign group wants people to back local firms, especially shops, while following the public health advice.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Today’s changes give many Scottish smaller firms an opportunity to salvage some trade ahead of Christmas. But it will have been for nothing if people across the country aren’t prepared to support the traders on their doorsteps.

“That’s why we’re urging the people of Scotland to use the 12 full days from this weekend to the 25th to support their local and independent businesses however they can. No matter where you are in the country, or which level you’re in, we need everyone to do their bit.”

Ahead of statement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP tomorrow, FSB also urged the Scottish Government to use the windfall from rates reliefs returned by chain retailers to fund a high street voucher scheme aimed at boosting independent operators.

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a voucher £95m scheme to boost their local economies. FSB estimates that the Scottish Government will receive around £190m in returned rates reliefs.

Andrew McRae said: “The big chains that have handed back unneeded rates reliefs deserve plaudits for doing the right thing. Now Ministers in Edinburgh need to use this windfall cash to boost the Scottish small businesses that have been hit hardest by this pandemic.

“That’s why they need to launch a voucher scheme to get tills ringing in high streets across the country. This move would take the edge off the disappointment felt by many operators who thought that they’d see restrictions ease further, and provide an opportunity to generate much needed footfall in town and city centres when it is safe to do so.”

The FSB also expressed frustration that the £30m fund that the First Minister announced in mid-November is not yet open to applications in any Scottish local authority.

Andrew McRae said: “It is a source of immense frustration that the authorities look like they’ve taken their foot off the accelerator in terms of getting support to business. The vaccine might have injected hope, but that’s of no use for firms who have exhausted their reserves. We need to see an extra push to make sure that forgotten firms can apply for help before the end of the year.”