Financial support for businesses outlined ‘to link resilience to recovery’
The Scottish Finance Secretary has allocated the final tranche of a funding package to tackle the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Leading a debate on the final stage of the Budget (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood on Thursday, Kate Forbes announced £39.5 million in funding to ‘provide a bridge between resilience and recovery’.
The money, which will be used to support the events, tourism, childcare and small business sectors, will be disbursed before the end of the financial year.
Ms Forbes told MSPs: “One of our main goals in this budget was economic recovery – and while households are struggling, so are some businesses.
“As the chamber knows, this government is committed to maximizing our Covid recovery support for businesses.
“As part of this, I previously announced the allocation of £276 million of Omicron business support funding for the current financial year.
“Following consultations with businesses, who have requested support to now focus on economic recovery, I am pleased to announce today the allocation of additional funds to support the recovery of the business sector, including events and travel.
“All of these grants will help move from resilience to recovery. »
Major events and the culture sector will receive £16 million in funding to counter cancellations incurred by the pandemic.
An additional £7.5million will be given to tour operators, with the aim of boosting economic recovery in tourism hotspots across the country, while £3.5million of funding will be transferred to travel agents. trips – which the finance secretary said had faced “a near-continuous situation”. » restrictions due to the pandemic.
A further £3m will be used for city center recovery to improve footfall, and the same will be given to small businesses to help them ‘digitalise’, the finance secretary has said.
Some £6.5million will also be given to the childcare sector to provide one-off grants to businesses.
Andrew McRae, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) of Scotland, has called for more help for businesses that will be hit by rising energy costs.
“The Scottish Government is right to focus on recovery, and we are delighted to see a new Covid grant announced for operators who have received little or no help so far,” he said. declared.
“One of the few bright spots in the past two years has been the number of smaller Scottish operators who have developed their digital skills to survive the pandemic.
“New funding for their popular and successful DigitalBoost program is a smart move that will help many businesses prepare for the future.
“However, today’s announcements do little to protect the bulk of Scotland’s smaller businesses from punitive increases in energy bills.
“The governments in Edinburgh and London cannot leave local, independent businesses to fend for themselves in a market that does not care about the sacrifices of the past two years.”