Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has supported calls for the Scottish Government to review the eligibility criteria for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund so that businesses operating from home can also access grant support.
Businesses are currently required to be based in a non-domestic premise to be able eligible to apply for funding through the scheme.
Mr McArthur has backed calls from his Shetland MSP colleague, Beatrice Wishart who has written to the Finance Secretary to ask that the eligibility criteria be reconsidered. Mr McArthur has also written to the Finance Secretary to urge her to review the requirements and highlight the impact that the current criteria will have on same businesses in Orkney, including bed and breakfast accommodation.
Responding, Orkney’s MSP said:
“All businesses are facing an anxious and uncertain time as the situation unfolds in response to the coronavirus. The government’s target of providing essential support to those affected is, of course, extremely welcome. However, too many businesses are still falling through the cracks within and between the different support packages. Ministers, working with local authorities, need to ensure that eligibility criteria are flexible and able to meet the needs of different types of businesses.
“Some bed and breakfast businesses in Orkney are yet another example of where rigid rules are creating problems and working against the overall aims of the support schemes. In the past, they have been encouraged to pay domestic rates, now leaving them ineligible for financial assistance. Unless addressed, this could put many out of business, putting at risk jobs and livelihoods as well as damaging Orkney’s tourism sector.
“I appreciate that Ministers are working hard to try to iron out the wrinkles. Trying to act with speed and keeping things simple, is not straightforward. However, I have urged the Finance Secretary to continue looking at how scheme rules can be improved and sensitively applied by local councils. This will be essential if businesses are to get the support they need to survive through these challenging times”.