Alister Jack: Treasury help during pandemic shows ‘strength of Union never been so important’

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THE “strength of the Union has never been so important,” Alister Jack has insisted, after Treasury figures showed that during the pandemic the UK Government has helped more than 90,000 Scottish businesses with loans worth almost £3.5 billion.

In figures released this morning, Rishi Sunak confirmed –

*more than 86,000 loans, worth more than £2.49bn, have been offered under the Government’s Bounce Back Loans Scheme, “demonstrating how UK Government support helped those businesses that were impacted hardest by the pandemic”.

*more than 4,000 loans worth £982 million have been offered under its Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme[CBIL].

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*142,000 people in Scotland have benefitted from the self-employment income support scheme with an average claim of £2,500.

“Throughout this crisis, we have provided more than £280bn of support to protect jobs and livelihoods up and down the country. We are committed to continuing to ensure jobs are protected and opportunity is created,” declared the Chancellor.

The Scottish Secretary insisted throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the Government had taken “quick and unprecedented action” to protect jobs and support businesses across Scotland.

“Today’s figures speak for themselves: over 90,000 businesses across Scotland have benefitted from £2.5bn in UK-Government backed loans providing a vital lifeline and certainty to plan for the months ahead.

“This is just part of a package of UK Government support for businesses which also includes the furlough scheme, now extended to April, self-employed income scheme and VAT cuts for our hospitality and tourism sectors.

“We have also given the Scottish Government an additional £8.6bn of upfront funding this year to help them respond to the pandemic with the good news last week some of this money is now finding its way to businesses.”

Mr Jack added: “As we continue to see throughout this pandemic, the strength of the Union and support offered by the UK Treasury has never been more important.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, the new Business Secretary, stressed how the figures showed “very clearly we have delivered on the solemn promise we made to support businesses across every part of the UK”.

He added: “While there are still tough times ahead, we will continue to offer all the support we can to protect jobs and keep businesses afloat so we can look to not only restart our economy, but build back better from the pandemic.”

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The Treasury, in highlighting how Scottish firms had benefited from Government-backed loans, pointed to one in particular, Cadherent, an engineering animation consultants based in Aberdeen.

David Thomson, its Managing Director, said: “The availability of CBILS has been a huge help to our business during this crisis. The scheme has allowed us to take stock as the situation has evolved, without making knee-jerk decisions.

“Without the loan, we’d certainly have been forced to take a far more cautious approach in the short term while the markets settle. This would have meant some employees losing their jobs and the business having to immediately stop any spending within its supply chain.”

The Treasury figures showed that the total value and number of the CBIL and Bounce Back Loans were highest in London at £13.8bn and 308,000 respectively. In Wales, the respective numbers were £2bn and 57,000 while in Northern Ireland they were £1.67bn and 40,000.

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