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Business / Relief as government announces support for small B&Bs

The Shetland tourist office in Lerwick. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News
More help is needed for the local tourism sector according to Shetland Tourism Association. Photo: Shetland News

OWNERS of small bed and breakfast businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic who have had no access to government support due to a technicality can now apply for a share of a new £3 million fund.

Scottish economy secretary Fiona Hyslop announced changes to the government’s package of business support funds on Tuesday, which now includes a small B&B support scheme.

The move to include small operators who do not have a business account was welcomed by the local tourism industry as well as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Shetland Tourism Association chairperson Emma Miller said: “I’m relieved to see the government recognising that this important part of our tourism industry has been overlooked and are taking steps to address this.

“These small business owners have seen the majority of their annual income swept away and they deserve to be supported like so many others already have been.

“We just need to hope now that other small businesses such as tour guides, who are home operated and don’t have business bank accounts, can also be recognised.”

The FSB’s development manager for the Highlands and Islands, David Richardson, said businesses had been refused funding on a technicality.

“I have been approached by a range of long-established and well known B&B operators during this crisis, all very concerned that they were missing out on Scottish Government support because they did not have business bank accounts,” he said.

Hyslop said: “Today I announced that £3 million of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund allocation will be re-purposed to support B&Bs who were ineligible for other support due to not having a business bank account.

“These businesses are an important part of Scotland’s tourism sector, particularly in rural areas, yet were not eligible for support from the hardship fund. I hope this change will help ensure they are ready to welcome visitors once again as soon as circumstances allow.

Richardson added: “FSB Scotland is campaigning hard to ensure that cracks in the support mechanism for smaller business are filled in, and we are sure that right across the Highlands & Islands, many, many B&B operators will be drawing a huge sigh of relief at this news.”

This funding for small B&Bs will be administered by local authorities and applications are expected to open on 15 June.