As the nation prepares to go into a state of emergency on Boxing Day, senior Scottish business leaders have written to the First Minister asking for a “exceptional” funding package.
The dramatic decision last night to put the entire Scottish mainland in a safe state four weeks after Boxing Day, in response to the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus, has raised questions about businesses’ ability to endure another period of enforced closure.
Leaders of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, UKHospitality (Scotland), Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce today called for a “additional, enhanced “exceptional” funding package” to help companies, saying that the current closure would usher in a “much more difficult time than any of us previously understood or anticipated.”
The Scottish tourism and hospitality industry, like everyone in the world, is disturbed by the news that a new Covid-19 form has been discovered in the UK and poses an increased threat to us all and the policy of the government to contain the virus,’ STA chief executive Marc Crothall wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, which was also signed by Willie MacLeod of UKHospitality ( ”
“Their subsequent announcement that restrictions will be tightened for the foreseeable future is clear and understandable and is a firm response to the health risk. The industry’s request is that the Scottish Government now provides a similarly swift and committed response to the economic consequences of this measure.”
The groups express concern about the pace at which the new funding package announced by ministers would hit companies, despite concerns that it will take until February before the money can be drawn down. There are concerns that some firms will not be eligible at all.
“Our sector is awaiting further details of the £185 million of additional funding announced by the Scottish government last week, which I believe the finance minister will announce tomorrow,” Mr. Crothall added in the message. However, I believe and am worried that because of the resource complexities of setting up the application process and making the application, it is unlikely that the funds will begin to flow into the bank accounts of corporations before the end of February if accepted.
‘Furthermore, I am aware that these additional support packages will mainly target undertakings that have received little to no support in the past, and that the grant amount available for some types of undertakings is very limited in certain cases; some will also be exempt from the application.’
“There will be businesses that fall into the latter category that had planned to be open and trading in the coming days and weeks that will now be hit even harder financially by these new restrictions coming into force on Boxing Day and will also need greater financial help.”
The letter comes after the Scottish Retail Consortium warned that the continued closure of non-essential retail could lead to a loss of £ 135 million for each week of closure in the industry.