The Small Business Grant scheme has been extended in Scotland to include all rateable business properties owned by small businesses with the first eligible property receiving a 100% grant and further premises a 75% grant. The U-turn by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, followed an announcement two weeks ago when she said, “Because there are more businesses eligible for the £10,000 grant in Scotland due to the more generous Small Business Bonus Scheme, and recognising the other business support available to cover wages, we have taken the decision to limit the £10,000 and £25,000 grants to one per business.”
Now £120m has been added to the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.
The move follows a petition from coffee shop owner Jon Sharp who owns Kilimanjaro Coffee, and constant lobbying by hospitality organisations the STA, UKHospitality and the SLTA. The new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5 May.
A further £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to COVID. This fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes.
Applications for the £100 million fund will be open by the end of the month.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said, “The Scottish Government’s primary concern remains protecting people’s health, but it is still the case that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having severe economic consequences for businesses around the country.
“We are doing everything we can to support business at this difficult time and we continue to listen to and engage with the sector.
“Our support for business now exceeds the £2.2 billion passed on from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes.
“Around 100,000 businesses in total are already eligible for our small business grants and from today we will be extending that scheme in response to feedback from businesses on the frontline of this economic crisis.
“The creation of a £100 million fund is to help those micro and SME businesses who face immediate cash flow challenges, are ineligible for other schemes and are the productive base for supporting employment in the future. It will also support those newly self-employed people who are also ineligible for UK schemes and will be a vital lifeline for many businesses and individuals across Scotland.
“With UK Government support not being available until June, we are going further to secure the future economic viability of Scottish firms and applications will be open by the end of the month.
Commenting on the Scottish Government’s extension of the grant scheme to multiple premises, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association’s CEO Emma McClarkin said, “This is a hugely welcome announcement from the Cabinet Secretary and one that the SBPA has been pushing the government repeatedly on over the last few weeks. This gives Pubs and other hospitality businesses the extra cashflow needed to survive at this time and will also allow more businesses to reopen once the pandemic is over. There remain areas where further support is still needed; pubs with rateable values of over £51,000 will still receive no grant support and is something we’re pushing both UK and Scottish Government’s for more action, but today’s a day many businesses will be saying ‘Cheers’ to Kate Forbes and the Scottish Government.”
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said, “Today’s announcement is welcomed by many across all sectors within Scotland’s tourism industry and is reflective of the conversations which have taken place between the STA, Cabinet Secretaries and Scottish Government officials over the past few weeks. We have highlighted evidence of gaps where support is not reaching those who need it within the industry in these conversations and it is heartening to know that the representation of the majority of our asks on behalf of Scotland’s tourism industry have been listened to and understood. We will of course look forward to learning the detail of the announcement in the coming days and will offer comment on behalf of our members at that time.”