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Coronavirus / Top-up Covid business support in the offing for hotels and taxi drivers

The general Covid-19 discretionary fund, open to businesses which have not received government funding so far, will also reopen for a second phase

HOTELS and taxi drivers are to be offered extra Covid-19 financial support as the council looks to use up more than £600,000 of surplus Scottish Government funding.

Councillors heard on Monday that £664,000 remains from the local Covid discretionary fund after around a quarter of a million was allocated to Shetland businesses.

The fund, which had an initial deadline of 31 March 2021, was designed to support businesses which were impacted by Covid-19 but had not received any government funding.

At Monday’s policy and resources committee meeting councillors approved plans to run a “phase two” of the discretionary fund in a bid to use up the leftover money.

A taxi driver top-up fund will also provide workers in the sector with an extra £1,000.

Economic development manager Tommy Coutts said this should bring the amount paid to taxi drivers in line with applicants to other government schemes.

It is estimated this will use up £85,000.

Meanwhile another top-up scheme will be introduced for the hotel sector, with an expectation that this will use up £156,000.

Payments of £19,000 will be paid to premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or higher, and £13,000 will go to businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000.

Hotels have to be currently open, on the council’s non-domestic rates system and have received already funding via the strategic framework business fun.

Meanwhile the general discretionary fund will open as soon as possible, with people able to apply up to 13 December.

North Mainland member Alastair Cooper asked if there was confidence that remaining funds will be used up.

Coutts said this was unlikely – but the council is working on other possible funding schemes with the government.

Cooper, who chairs the council’s development committee, welcomed more funds being disbursed into the community.

“I think we still have businesses that are struggling here in Shetland as a result of Covid,” he said.

His ward colleague Emma Macdonald that while the pandemic has affected local businesses, the sector has showed strength through adversity.

She stressed the importance of supporting local businesses – especially with Christmas coming up.