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Coronavirus / Small businesses call for more Covid-19 support

THE FEDERATION of Small Businesses is calling on the Scottish Government and Scotland’s local authorities to release more funds to help small and medium sized businesses.

New research carried out by the organisation representing the interests of the UK’s many small businesses indicate that despite many Scottish and UK-wide funding schemes one in five Scottish firms have had no financial support since the Covid-19 crisis began in March this year.

The FSB has now written to finance secretary Kate Forbes, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) as well as to the leaders of Scotland’s 32 local authorities calling for more grants to be made available.

The FSB's Highlands and Islands manager David Richardson.The FSB’s Highlands and Islands manager David Richardson.

The organisation’s Highlands and Islands development manager David Richardson said thousands of small businesses and self-employed people who, through no fault of their own, are struggling most.

“The owners of many of our small Highlands and Islands businesses have struggled without support, or adequate support, since this crisis began, and now, during the second spike, we are seeing that the new Scottish restrictions are hurting many more businesses than those forced to close or reduce their hours by law,” he said.

“The Highlands and Islands might be in level one, but that does not mean that our businesses are getting off lightly. It’s really tough out there and many need financial support to get them through to the spring.

FSB Scotland fears that the Scottish Government’s new £30m funding budget will simply not be enough to help all businesses facing real hardship due to the current round of restrictions.

“Specifically, we want support for those facing hardship as an indirect result of the current restrictions on hospitality, not least the suppliers of hospitality and retail businesses, and also for businesses without premises (home and vehicle-based businesses), the directors of small companies, freelancers, and those earning less than 50 per cent of their income from self-employment.”

Last week, the Fraser of Allander Institute estimated that around £1 billion of ScottishGovernment funding for the 2020/21 financial year remains uncommitted.

“We are urging the Scottish Government to allocate whatever is required from this pot to support smaller businesses and the self-employed,” Richardson said.