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Coronavirus / Business interventions sought by isles politicians

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for government support for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to be extended to home run businesses.

She has written to Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, asking that eligibility criteria for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund be reassessed so that home operated businesses can access support.

Current guidance states that eligible businesses must be located in a non-domestic property to apply for grants, excluding those who operate from home or have their business registered there.

Local LibDem politicians Beatrice Wishart MSP and Alistair Carmichael MP. Photos: Shetland News

Wishart said: “This is clearly a very worrying time for small business owners. With it already being a challenge to access business advice due the high demand, it will be all the more frustrating to eventually be told that you are not eligible for support simply because of your business address.

“I recognise the difficult job that ministers and officials have during this crisis to get support schemes up and running quickly, but the eligibility criteria must be reconsidered to ensure that businesses in Shetland can get the help they urgently need.”

Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, meanwhile has called on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to clarify its position on changes to individual credit ratings relating to the impact of coronavirus.

Carmichael was writing in response to concerns that people requesting mortgage or loan holidays due to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak may face an adverse change to their credit rating.

He said: “People should not be penalised for taking measured and necessary actions to protect themselves in exceptional circumstances. It is only right that there be a recognition of the impact of coronavirus in approaching people’s credit ratings.

“Loan holidays may be the only option available to many people to tide them over in the coming weeks. They should not have to worry about how it might impact their credit, long after this crisis is over.

“I have also asked that the FCA clarify its position on bank overdraft charges during the crisis.

“I hope that the FCA will respond on these matters urgently and give reassurance to people that punitive measures by banks and credit ratings agencies are not acceptable.”