Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) pressed Ministers to ensure ‘lynchpin’ local businesses are supported to ensure that they can continue to play a pivotal role within local economies.
During ‘virtual’ Members Questions, Mr McArthur used the example of local wholesalers and Orkney Cheese to illustrate how certain businesses are integral to supporting a much wider group, whose future could be jeopardised in the event of those lynchpin businesses going under.
Orkney’s MSP welcomed the decision to introduce a Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, and asked the Rural Economy Secretary to acknowledge that local wholesalers and Orkney Cheese epitomised the sort of businesses that should be supported through this fund.
In response, the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, agreed that the resilience fund was intended to support the type of businesses mentioned by Mr McArthur but also recognised that more needed to be done to help businesses more widely to navigate the current crisis. He confirmed that he was in discussions with his UK ministerial counterparts to see how this might be achieved.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“The current crisis is placing enormous pressure on businesses across almost every sector. The future is uncertain and, quite rightly, government at UK and Scottish level has stepped in to provide support in a variety of ways.
“There are some businesses, however, that one could fairly describe as ‘lynchpins’ within every local economy. They are not always large in size, but the impact they can have on other local businesses and the economy as a whole is often significant.
“Our local wholesalers and Orkney Cheese are just two examples amongst many. As well as those they directly employ, our wholesalers keep local shops, care homes and hospital supplied with food and other essentials, while Orkney Cheese supports local dairy farms and businesses producing a variety of high quality products from smoked cheese to ice cream.
“These businesses epitomise what the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund should be there to support and I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s acknowledgment of that fact. Welcome too is his recognition that more still needs to be done to plug the remaining gaps in the support schemes available to a wide variety of businesses locally and nationally. I certainly intend to support Fergus Ewing’s efforts to agree that additional support with the UK government”.