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Companies given access to £1bn business support fund

The Scottish Government said more than 90,000 ratepayers around the country can benefit from one-off grants.

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Two types of grant are available (Jane Barlow/PA)

Two types of grant are available (Jane Barlow/PA)

Two types of grant are available (Jane Barlow/PA)

A £1 billion business support fund has opened to help companies deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s Finance Secretary has announced.

More than 90,000 ratepayers across the country will be able to benefit from the one-off grants, which are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery, the Scottish Government said.

The two types of grant available are a one-off £10,000 payment to ratepayers of small businesses or £25,000 to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value of between £18,001 and £50,999.

The grant support is in addition to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

We are determined to help keep companies in business and support them and their staff during this difficult timeKate Forbes

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “While our primary concern is for people’s health, it is clear that the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will have severe economic consequences, and we are treating it as an economic emergency.

“We are determined to help keep companies in business and support them and their staff during this difficult time.

“Local authorities are the most efficient way to deliver this and we have worked closely with them to deliver these measures – and eligible businesses can apply now.”

She added: “Local authorities will aim to make payments within 10 working days and I’d like to thank them for their help in ensuring this support is delivered as quickly as possible.

“The Covid-19 situation, however, is both severe and fast-moving and requires a co-ordinated UK response.

“I will continue to work closely with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations.”

Firms in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail businesses, are among those which can benefit.

Companies that think they may be eligible for one of the grants are advised to contact their local authority.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland welcomed the announcement and called for the cash to be made available to as many companies as possible.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman said: “This £1 billion package could make the difference for many thousands of Scottish businesses during this difficult period. We would urge business owners to read the available detail carefully, and then make contact with their council.

“While Scotland’s small business community is grateful for this support, it is important that good businesses aren’t denied this help because of administrative difficulties. We would ask local and national decision-makers to do what they can to ensure these cash grants and tax breaks benefit as many firms as possible. Resources to make this happen need to be found.”

PA