FSB: Ministers see light on business support

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes MSP has announced a variety of new funds to support firms through the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) broadly welcomed the move.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “These new funds should close some of the most yawning gaps in coronavirus business support, and help many Scottish smaller firms who were forgotten during previous initiatives. While we’d like to have seen a speedier and more systematic approach to supporting local businesses crushed by the crisis, we’re pleased that Ministers have seen the light following our representations.

“However we’re now left with a myriad of schemes at various stages of delivery, with much of the cash unlikely to reach firms until the new year. In the future, we need to see policymakers in Edinburgh deliver help for local businesses at the same pace as they implement restrictions on the economy.”

Following the statement, the FSB reiterated their call for the Scottish Government to investigate a high street voucher scheme to boost local economies. Official figures show that at least £300m is held in contingency by Ministers, even before the Scottish Government gets a share of rates reliefs recently returned by chain retailers.

Andrew McRae said: “Despite the Christmas lights, many small businesses on local high streets aren’t feeling very festive. While yesterday’s changes offered some firms a window of opportunity, there’s no point denying that this December is going to be difficult for many. That’s why the Scottish Government should set the wheels in motion to deliver a high street voucher for every household to inject real spending power into our local economies when it is safe to do so.”