Jobs support welcome, but new help for local firms required

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP has this afternoon announced a range of measures designed to support UK businesses and workers as they face ongoing covid-related restrictions. The furlough scheme is being extended until the end of March and further support will be provided to the self-employed.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “This is the right move from the Chancellor and should save Scottish jobs. While this announcement could have come earlier, business leaders now have a bit of much-needed certainty going into the winter.

“Importantly, the UK Government has also renewed its support for the bulk of the self-employed. However, we’d like to see decision-makers in Edinburgh and London find new ways to give help to the thousands of Scottish businesses without dedicated premises; sole-traders; and freelancers who’ve received little or no financial aid during this crisis.

“A full-scale lockdown in Scotland can’t become more likely because of these financial changes. Bute House needs to give their commendable targeted restrictions strategy a chance to work. Even with this package of help, a national lockdown in Scotland would cause devastating harm to businesses, workers and communities.

“The Scottish Government should also explore whether it can now top up the grant support available for firms that currently can’t trade or are hampered by current restrictions. If a business fails during a lockdown period then jobs will be lost, no matter the employment support on offer. Ministers in Edinburgh have a duty provide as much help as possible to every firm on the precipice.”