Businesses across Scotland will benefit from a new £185 million package of targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) support.
The announcement follows discussions with business groups and sees a wide range of sectors benefiting, from taxi drivers and arts venues to travel agents and hospitality.
In addition, there will be additional one-off payments to hospitality businesses in January to help them deal with the traditional post-Christmas dip in demand. These will be of £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.
The package was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP, who also said she had written to the Treasury calling for Scotland to receive its share of rates relief reimbursed by supermarkets “to ensure this is spent on those areas hardest hit as part of Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19.”
Ms Forbes (pictured) said:
“Today I am pleased to confirm an allocation of £185 million for new and additional business support in the New Year. We have listened to businesses and this assistance will be provided on a sector-by-sector basis, targeted at those who need it most.
“We are developing grant schemes for hospitality, for the events sector, live music and cultural venues, for the arts, indoor football centres and for the food and drink sector, including £1.8 million for brewers.
“A new £19 million fund, plus a one-off grant, will help taxi drivers.
"I can also announce that further support of £60 million will be provided to the tourism sector, details of which will be developed in consultation with the industry.
“I am listening to the needs of business and we will continue to review and refine our COVID-19 support offer within the available resources.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“This is great news for businesses across North Ayrshire and Scotland, as the SNP Government continues to not only step up but evolve its programme of targeted support by listening to business owners.
“Having repeatedly argued that the big, profitable supermarkets should have paid their rates, I was of course delighted at the decision made by Tesco and others to forfeit their relief.
“The sum Scotland is due from the UK Government on the back of this, aligns with the £60 million that will be going into the tourism sector and I look forward to North Ayrshire businesses receiving any further support they may need.”
Specific support detailed in today’s announcement includes:
£5 million for the wedding sector and its supply chain, including photographers
One-off grants totalling £15 million for mobile close contact services, such as hairdressers
A £19 million fund and one-off grants for taxi drivers
£5 million for travel agents
Almost £6 million for coach companies and tour operators
£1.5 million for visitor attractions
More detail on the package will be announced in the coming days and businesses can expect to apply for all the new grant schemes in January.