Covid in Scotland: Top-up grants for hospitality and retail

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Hospitality, retail and leisure firms hit by level four restrictions are to receive one-off top-up grants from the Scottish government.

Eligible larger hospitality businesses will receive £25,000 on top of existing grants, while smaller firms will get £6,000.

There will also be an extra £9,000 for larger retail and leisure companies and £6,000 for smaller firms.

Scottish retailers described the new cash grants as "a financial lifeline".

The Scottish government said that in most cases, eligible businesses that had already applied for a four-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund (SFBF) would get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, it said, the top-up would be combined with the next tranche of payment for the SFBF due to go to businesses on 25 January.

It urged businesses that had not yet applied for either of these funds to do so as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said that since the start of the pandemic, Scottish government support for business and the economy had reached almost £3bn.

She said: "As promised, this additional support for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will be available this month, in some cases doubling or tripling the amount of support we are providing.

"Applications are open now and payment will be made this month.

"I'd encourage all eligible businesses to apply through their local authority if they have not done so already.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: "These enhanced cash grants for retail business are a financial lifeline which will help non-essential stores through the current phase of being unable to open and trade."

'Still work to do'

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland also welcomed the move.

Scotland policy chairman Andrew McRae said: "This should help some smaller Scottish businesses weather the current storm for a bit longer.

"We'd urge all eligible independent businesses facing difficulties to apply for this help, or we face chains and larger operators swallowing up the bulk of the funding.

"The Scottish government still has work to do to get previously announced support schemes up and running. And we must see help reach those that have had little or nothing so far, like many home-based businesses.

'Evaporating demand'

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black welcomed the new grants, saying they would help some of Scotland's hardest-hit firms as they "struggle with evaporating demand and day-to-day cashflow challenges".

She added: "There is, however, no doubt that severe restrictions, while both understandable and necessary, are having a significant impact on jobs and livelihoods across the Scottish economy.

"All firms, including across vital supply chains, are experiencing huge challenges, in turn weakening the foundations for economic recovery.

"Any potential further restrictions - particularly for vital sectors like manufacturing and construction - must be transparent."