Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur (pictured), has today (Wednesday) called on Ministers to revaluate the criteria for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund to allow self-catering businesses to be included in the list of businesses that can claim support.
The grant scheme is currently open for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to apply for one-off grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 to support them while they are closed as part of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, self-catering properties have been excluded from the list of businesses that are eligible to apply.
In response, Mr McArthur has written to the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to highlight the unfairness of a wholesale exclusion of self-catering businesses and urging the Scottish Government to reconsider the eligibility criteria to ensure that self-catering businesses can also benefit from the package of support being made available.
He has also highlighted specific difficulties caused by the rateable value thresholds, which are likely to create difficulties for certain local businesses.
Mr McArthur commented:
“The announcement of a package of measures to provide financial support for small businesses across Scotland is of course very welcome during this exceptionally challenging time.
“However, the wholesale exclusion of self-catering businesses has caused widespread concern and appears unjustified.
“I have been contacted by many constituents over the last 24 hours, all extremely worried about the impact this decision will have on their incomes and future of businesses that form a key part of Orkney and indeed Scotland’s tourism sector.
“Bookings have been cancelled during what would usually be the busiest time of the year.
“At the same time, like any other business, they have overheads to cover, bills to pay and income that they depend upon.
“Understandably, they are questioning why they should be treated so differently from other businesses in the sector and indeed self-catering businesses in other parts of the UK, who are able to access this support.
“I have written to the Finance Secretary highlighting these concerns and urging her to reverse the decision to exclude all self-catering businesses.
“This is a call I know that many of my MSP colleagues, across all parties, support.
“The government is to be commended on introducing this support fund.
“It will, I am sure, make a real difference to keeping businesses afloat and staff employed during this incredibly difficult period.
“It is vital, however, that we get the detail right and the support to where it is needed.”