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Business / MSP backs shoe retailer over business grant frustration

The Begg Shoes shop on Lerwick's Commercial Street. Photo © Google 2020

A SCOTTISH shoe retailer with a shop in Lerwick says it is unfair that the Scottish Government is only delivering one coronavirus business support grant per company even if it owns multiple branches.

Begg Shoes, which has nine stores in towns and cities like Kirkwall, Inverness, Elgin and Perth, said it is in line to only receive one grant of £25,000.

A one-off payment of £25,000 is available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.

Unlike in Scotland, businesses based in England are eligible for one grant per eligible property.

All of Beggs’ shops are closed during ‘lockdown’ and the retailer is taking advantage of the UK government’s job retention scheme.

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said the Scottish Government “must listen to the concerns” of business like small Scottish chains.

“Beggs has branches throughout the Highlands and Islands and they provide employment and opportunities for many people, as well as being essential to the prosperity of our high streets,” he said.

“The Scottish Government’s decision to go a different way to how support is being delivered in the rest of the UK appears to have been made without a clear understanding of the impact on the many Scottish chains which operate in the retail and hospitality sectors.

“My message to Scottish Government ministers is clear: please listen to businesses. Hear what they’re saying. It’s not too late to change course.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government hoped to spread its allocation as widely as possible but would keep things under review.