Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) welcomed new measures that will extend the Small Business Grant Scheme to allow businesses with multiple premises to receive financial support for each of those premises.
Previously, the criteria for the Business Support Scheme limited businesses to making a single application. This was at odds with the way in which the Scheme has been operating in England and Wales, where businesses have been able to apply for support for each premises registered to pay business rates.
Mr McArthur wrote to the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, highlighting the disproportionate impact the restriction was having on businesses in Orkney, many of whom operate from a number of different properties in the county and elsewhere. Orkney’s MSP called for Ms Forbes to review the way the Scheme was implemented in Scotland and ease the restrictions.
The Scottish Government has now announced new arrangements to allow small businesses with multiple premises to apply for a 75% grant on all subsequent properties as well as support for those who are newly self-employed.
Mr McArthur commented:
“Orkney is home to many businesses that operate from a number of different properties. Each of these premises are liable for business rates, yet only one was entitled for support under the rules initially drawn up by the Scottish Government.
“This approach contrasted with the situation south of the border and represented a glaring anomaly. Having written to the Finance Secretary highlighting the disproportionate impact these restrictions were having in Orkney, I am delighted that Kate Forbes has responded positively by bringing forward changes to the criteria.
“It will take a little time to consider the detail of those changes, but the willingness of the Finance Secretary to listen to the concerns being raised is welcome. The move to help those who are newly self-employed is also a positive step in the right direction, which will benefit a number of people in Orkney.
“However, there is still work to be done. Gaps exist and many businesses remain at risk of falling through the cracks when it comes to accessing support. Businesses that operate from domestic premises, for example, continue to be overlooked and will be frustrated at the continued lack of recognition of their plight. So too those operating boat charters, who have seen their market collapse.
“I will be continuing to call on the Finance Secretary to address these outstanding anomalies and ensure more businesses in Orkney are able to access the support they so desperately need at this enormously challenging time”.