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Kate Forbes announces new £185m business support scheme

Anna Moffat

Kate Forbes announces new £185m business support scheme

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced an additional £185m in business support for firms in the new year.

The cash will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, with grants to be made available to hospitality, events, food and drink, the arts and indoor football centres.

Recovery plans will also be developed for the tourism and construction sectors.

Details of the schemes and how businesses can apply will be published shortly.

Forbes said: “I’m pleased to confirm an allocation of £185m for new and additional business support in the new year, providing support on a sector-by-sector basis so that it is appropriately targeted. We listen and have listened to the voice of business.

“We are developing with a range of partners, including local authorities, grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for support to our food and drink sector, including £1.8m for brewers.

“We’ll be supporting recovery plans developed in partnership with the construction sector and with the tourism sector, including self-catering, B&Bs and guest houses.

“Doing this on a sector-by-sector basis can add complexity, but it also ensures that we tailor the support so that it is as effective as possible.”

A breakdown of the total includes £60m set aside for the tourism sector, £15m for the wedding sector and £19m for taxi drivers.

Local authorities are also set to receive £30m to create discretionary funds to suit their local priorities.

Forbes also announced one-off payments will be made to hospitality businesses in January in addition to any other payment due, given the impact the pandemic has had on that sector in particular. These will be worth £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.

FSB Scotland has welcomed the announcement. Policy chair Andrew McRae said: “These new funds should close some of the most yawning gaps in coronavirus business support, and help many Scottish smaller firms who were forgotten during previous initiatives. While we’d like to have seen a speedier and more systematic approach to supporting local businesses crushed by the crisis, we’re pleased that ministers have seen the light following our representations.

“However we’re now left with a myriad of schemes at various stages of delivery, with much of the cash unlikely to reach firms until the new year. In the future, we need to see policymakers in Edinburgh deliver help for local businesses at the same pace as they implement restrictions on the economy.”

The new fund is part of an additional £570m the Scottish Government has allocated to support business and the economy as consequentials from UK Government spending.

The Scottish Government has also allocated an extra £600m to health and social care (including the vaccination programme), £139m for local government and £500m for transport and other bodies facing shortages as a result of the pandemic, such as the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service.

Forbes confirmed £300m of the £2.2bn in Barnett consequentials would remain unallocated. She said it was “crucial that this funding is held as contingency”.

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