Extra support for Scottish businesses announced

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shuttered pubImage source, Getty Images
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Many pub and restaurant businesses have been shut down by the coronavirus lockdown

Extra support to help businesses through the coronavirus lockdown has been announced by Scottish ministers.

The government had been under pressure over a decision to give out grants on a one per business basis, rather than one per property as elsewhere in the UK.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has now said small chains will be able to claim extra cash for additional properties.

And she announced an extra £100m of funding for self-employed people and firms that are not currently covered.

Ms Forbes urged businesses to only claim help if "absolutely necessary", likening it to the advice to shoppers to only buy what they need from supermarkets.

The new funds come on top of the initial £2.2bn of support for Scottish businesses announced at the beginning of the lockdown, which was part of a £30bn package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Scottish ministers insisted "every penny" of this funding was being passed on, but faced criticism from opposition politicians and some small firms that they had taken a different approach to the UK government.

In England, companies running chains of shops, bars or restaurants can apply for a £25,000 grant for each property they have. In Scotland, this was limited to one grant per company, regardless of how many properties they operated, with ministers saying they were spreading the cash over a bigger range of firms.

Image source, Getty Images
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Kate Forbes said she had listened to feedback from Scottish firms

Having listened to "feedback from businesses on the frontline of this economic crisis", Ms Forbes has now committed a further £120m to the scheme, which will allow companies to apply for a further 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

She also announced a new fund aimed at newly self-employed people who may have struggled to access the existing scheme, which requires evidence of past tax returns and does not kick in until June.

This cash, which will also target small firms not eligible for existing grants and who face cash-flow problems, will be administered through local councils and enterprise agencies.

The finance secretary said: "While many businesses are in difficulty, some are doing better than others or can pull through from their own resources.

"Just as we ask the public only to buy what they need in the supermarkets, we are asking businesses who do not need this vital help to refrain from claiming additional support unless absolutely necessary so we can direct as much help as possible to those who need it most."